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Lesson Dodgers don't want to learn: Best team doesn't always win

October 16, 2013|By Steve Dilbeck
  • St. Louis second baseman Matt Carpenter, right, tags out Dodgers baserunner Andre Ethier before throwing to first base to complete a ninth-inning double play in the Dodgers' 4-2 loss in Game 4 of the NLCS.
St. Louis second baseman Matt Carpenter, right, tags out Dodgers baserunner… (Wally Skalij / Los Angeles…)

If the Dodgers continue their current direction, they are going to be one ticked-off team all off-season.

They’re going to look at the lineups and rotations in this National League Championship Series and come to an obvious conclusion: they’re the better team.

Deeper lineup, bigger arms in the rotation, at least an equal bullpen.

Healthy, almost healthy, unable to play, doesn’t matter. The Dodgers still have the more talented team.

The best team doesn’t always win (check with the 1988 Oakland A’s); it's the team that plays the best. And right now, the Cardinals are playing just enough better to lead the series three games to one.

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The Dodgers want to turn things around in a hurry against the Cardinals? I have a suggestion: hit the damn ball.

Real simple to say when you’re not facing the Cardinals’ army of hard-throwing arms, but it’s not as if the Dodgers have never seen a 97-mph fastball before. It’s not as if they’re not some of the game’s best hitters, even without Hanley Ramirez.

“Our offense hasn’t come through,” said A.J. Ellis. “We need to step up, it doesn’t matter who’s in the lineup.”

There can’t be any blame placed on the Dodgers' pitching staff. In the four games, the Dodgers have held the Cardinals to eight runs and a .148 batting average. And are down 1-3. That’s hard to do.

'“Surprising' is a good word,” Ellis said. “Frustrated, disappointed, irritated, all those words fit the bill. Our guys have thrown the ball great and done an amazing job. You feel at this point at the very least you should be 2-2. But unfortunately we are where we are for a reason. And that’s because St. Louis has executed just as well as we have, especially on the mound.

“They’ve shown, not just us but all of baseball, they have a ton of young power arms, and those guys come in the game and they shut the door. We’re going to have to solve that riddle and find a way to score some runs. And start [Wednesday].”

The good news is the Dodgers’ rotation is set with Zack Greinke, Clayton Kershaw and Hyun-Jin Ryu. The bad is, Greinke and Kershaw lost in their first series starts against the Cardinals.

“When you have Greinke, Kershaw, and Game7, Ryu, that’s our best chance to win it,” said Skip Schumaker. “Our only chance also.”

The Dodgers will need to beat the Cardinals three consecutive times to advance to the World Series, a feat they have never accomplished in their franchise history. In the six previous series they trailed 3-1, they lost them all.

But every team is different, and since June 22, when the team went on that great 42-8 run to turn its season around, they have had 10 winning streak of three or more.

A year ago Schumaker was with the Cardinals and feeling pretty good when they took a 3-1 lead over the Giants.

“Well, we lost,” he said. “Hopefully that’s going to be a continuing theme.”

If it doesn’t, the Dodgers are going to spend a long, haunted offseason looking back and wondering how they lost.

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