Dodgers third baseman Juan Uribe dives but can't stop a ball hit by… (Mark J. Terrill / Associated…)
So about that fire . . .
The Dodgers insist that Manager Don Mattingly’s now-infamous mini-rant on playing with grit and determination really did strike a chord, though apparently one not loud enough for the rest of us to recognize.
The Dodgers have gone 2-2 since Mattingly’s one-day benching of Andre Ethier and blunt evaluation before Wednesday’s game. Sunday he benched Matt Kemp, as his tough-love campaign continues.
Alas, the result was a 5-3 loss to the Cardinals, the last-place Dodgers again falling seven games back in the National League West.
And while it’s true the Cardinals benefited from odd bounces and strange deflections all afternoon, the fact remains that this Dodgers team is apparently incapable of coming back late in a game to win.
Here’s a stat for you: The Dodgers are now 0-17 in games they trail after six innings.
That’s a fairly stunning stat. They’ve played 48 games (losing 28) and haven't had a single late-inning comeback win. You would think they'd at least stumble into a couple.
“I really didn’t realize it,” Mattingly said. “I guess it would surprise me. That’s not good.”
Nope, not good at all. In fact, it is very bad. One of the main ingredients of a last-place team. The Dodgers are hitting .222 after the sixth inning.
It would not seem much of a leap to make a statistical connection between a team that never rallies late to win and Mattingly’s comments about playing hard the entire game.
The players, however, maintain his Jim Morrison message has been heard and received.
“There’s definitely a different feeling in this place,” said catcher A.J. Ellis. “It’s time to turn it on. Go against the Angels [Monday] and start from there.”
Said Carl Crawford: “It’s been a little different the last few days. It was probably something we needed. Hopefully we can continue to play with that feeling and win more games.”
That would be awful nice. That would help a beleaguered manager and a team struggling to find itself. Time will reveal if his message truly translated.
“I just feel like with Donnie’s comments and the way he’s addressed us, addressed the team and addressed the situation, we feel there’s a little bit more of a fire,” Ellis said. “Hopefully it’s showing up on the field. We didn’t get the results with a win [Sunday], but definitely felt we were battling, we were fighting today. It just needs to be an everyday thing.”
Turning into an occasional come-from-behind thing. Just for a complete change of pace.