Leave it to the great Vin Scully to say what nobody else wants to say but what everybody is thinking.
“These are not the Dodgers that went 53-17. These are the Dodgers of May.”
As usual, the Hall of Fame broadcaster was spot on with his assessment of the September Dodgers, which he shared with television viewers during Monday night’s disappointing 2-1 loss to the Arizona Diamondbacks in spite of Hyun-jin Ryu’s outstanding two-hit performance.
There is simply no other way to put it – the lineups that Dodger manager Don Mattingly has been forced to put on the field over the past week have been painfully reminiscent of the Dodgers of May, who that found themselves in last place in the NL West and 12.5 games behind the (then) first place D-backs.
It’s not that the Dodgers are suddenly playing bad baseball or that their pitching is bad, they are simply not hitting with runners on base and are not stringing together consecutive hits – just as they did (or failed to do) in April and May.
Everyone is well away that the Dodgers are experiencing a rash of late season injuries to some (most) of their key players right now but is that really a valid excuse for the back-ups and bench players to quit hitting?
Although it is still inconceivable that the Dodgers will actually blow what was once a 13.5-game lead in the NL West as recently as a week and half ago and not win the division, the Dodgers current four-game losing streak coupled with the D-backs current three-game winning streak is beginning to make Dodger fans a little uncomfortable.
With Hanley Ramirez, Carl Crawford and Andre Ethier still out of the lineup nursing injuries and with the just-reactivated Matt Kemp resembling the Matt Kemp that went 0 for 18 with seven strikeouts during his five minor league rehab games in his one at bat on Monday night, it’s hard to imagine that Mattingly’s May-like Dodger lineup will just suddenly start hitting.
The good news is that Yasiel Puig’s injured left hip apparently wasn’t as serious as initially thought and he was back in the lineup on Monday night, and it is quite possible that Ramirez will return within the next day or two. Unfortunately, the same cannot be said for Andre Ethier (ankle) and Carl Crawford (back), who might be out for up to 10 days with only 12 games remaining in the regular season.
The Dodgers still have three more opportunities to win two games from the Diamondbacks to clinch the NL West title. But if they do not and (Heaven forbid) they get swept by the D-backs, the Dodgers will be forced to win four of their remaining nine games elsewhere, because you can pretty much count on them not getting any help whatsoever from the D-backs for the rest of the season. And to be brutally honest, if the Dodgers cannot win two of the next three games with Zack Greinke, Ricky Nolasco and Stephen Fife on the mound, the Dodgers are in very serious trouble.