Don Mattingly is managing the last-place team in the NL West. (Stephen Dunn / Getty Images )
Look down. No, keep going. Way down. To the bottom kind of down.
There they are, the Los Angeles Dodgers, owners of the largest payroll in baseball history, at the very underside of the National League West standings.
The Dodgers can look around their clubhouse, count the injured and rationalize their lot in baseball life all they’d like. It still feels foreign, still feels slightly otherworldly.
The Dodgers were designed to compete for a postseason run, not to try and scramble past the Padres. They were supposed to be the new power in the West, not a team 5-14 against teams within its division.
Yet little has gone right, starting naturally with having to use the disabled list 12 times in 30 games, and with another move coming Tuesday.
But Matt Kemp and Andre Ethier are not hitting the way they’re supposed to. Luis Cruz has been a monumental disappointment at third. And the only reliable, and healthy, starters thus far have been Clayton Kershaw and Hyun-Jin Ryu.
Right now they’ve lost five consecutive games, have fallen to 13-18 and are starting to look like a team beginning to press.
Monday night Carl Crawford awkwardly charges a hit and turns it into a triple. Dee Gordon can’t keep the handle on double-play ball. Chris Capuano gives up back-to-back homers.
“It’s very frustrating, because we have high expectations and are definitely not playing up to the where we’re capable,” Crawford said. “We just have to keep playing and hope things turn around.”
Crawford blamed himself for misplaying the single into a two-run triple.
“I just tried to make something happen there and just straight up missed that ball,” Crawford said. “I took a gamble when I probably shouldn’t have and paid the price for it. That happens.”
That happens more when teams are struggling. Capuano, making his first start since coming off the disabled list with a strained calf, was so upset when lifted that he thrashed the team dugout on way to the clubhouse.
“It’s just a lot of frustration,” Capuano said. “It’s a lot of hard work that goes into battling through an injury and getting back. You’re really excited to be back out there and compete. That’s the reward for all the hard work. It’s very frustrating when it doesn’t go your way.”
The Dodgers know the injury wave will have to abate at some point. Believe the team will rise above its plight. That time will prove an ally. It's just that when you’re in the middle of one of these skids, it gets hard to repeat the refrain.
“That’s what makes baseball so tough,” Capuano said. “It can really beat you down like that.
“You get a couple of games together and sometimes you can feel there’s a lot of weight on you. You have to be really mentally tough to play this game. Put things behind you, come out fresh and give your best effort today.”