Dodgers inability to score runs late could be their demise

When your starting line-up has names like Yasiel Puig, Hanley Ramirez, Adrian Gonzalez, Matt Kemp and Andre Ethier in it, you would think that opposing pitchers would want to run and hide. But the truth of the matter is, if an opposing team can take a lead into the eighth inning, the Dodgers are toast.

How so, you ask?

The numbers speak for themselves and they are unimaginable. According to Rick Monday (via his radio broadcast during Friday night’s 6-3 loss to the San Diego Padres), the Dodgers are now 0 for 34 when trailing after the seventh inning. This isn’t just bad, this is absolutely unacceptable for a team with any hope of going deep into the postseason, especially from a team with the largest payroll in the game.

Dodgers slugger Matt Kemp slams his bat down after striking out with two outs and a runner at third base in Wednesday's 4-1 loss to the Tigers. Kemp actually broke his bat over his knee after striking out to end the 6th inning with two runners on base in Friday night's 6-3 loss to the padres. (Photo credit - Paul Sancya)

Matt Kemp slams his bat to the ground after striking out with a runner on third in Wednesday’s 4-1 loss to the Tigers. Kemp actually broke his bat over his knee after striking out to end the 6th inning with two runners on base in Friday night’s 6-3 loss to the Padres.
(Photo credit – Paul Sancya)

Oh sure, we’ve seen the Dodgers pound other teams by five or more runs early in games, but the cold hard truth is that their offense completely shuts down late in games. Now whether this is because they think they have enough runs to win early in these games or because they feel that any lead, however slight, is safe to hand off to their often struggling bullpen is anyone’s guess, but the bottom line is that these lines of thinking are not working.

There is no greater example of this than last Tuesday’s game against the AL Central leading Detroit Tigers when the Dodgers got to former Cy Young Award winner Justin Verlander for five runs in the first inning. Not only did the Tiger fight their way back, they ended up crushing the Dodgers by a score of 14-5. It was as if the Dodgers offense simply quit after they scored their five runs in the top of the first inning. It was pathetic. The Tigers put on a clinic against the Dodgers both offensively and defensively. They were everything that the Dodgers were not. They kept scratching and clawing throughout the entire game while the Dodgers basically sat back and watched. It was inexcusable and clearly showed who the better team was – a team that the Dodgers could very well face in the World Series – if they are lucky enough to get there.

It’s easy the say ‘Well, we’re in first place in the NL West.’ So what? Do you really think that teams like the Tigers, or Brewers, or Athletics, or even the Giants care? Why should they when they know that the Dodgers can’t score after the seventh inning? Heck, this is when the really good teams start playing.

The point to all of this is not to bag on the Dodgers, the point is that if the Dodgers hope to make it into the playoffs and hope to go deep into them, they better figure out a way to start scoring runs late in games and better start playing with a sense of urgency until the final out is recorded. If they do not, they will be watching the playoffs on TV instead of playing in them.

 

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4 Responses to “Dodgers inability to score runs late could be their demise”

  1. Bluenose Dodger says:

    I’ve said it a number of times before and will say it again. This team of Dodgers is either going to be very good or not very good on a given night. The hope is that they are very good at certain times.

    The team is not built in a grind it out fashion. It is all or nothing as we see in so many AB’s. The team is not built for consistency which is needed in the long haul.

    The inability to win games after the seventh inning by coming back is very telling. If that trend continues a WS ring in not going to be part of the 2014 season or even the chance to win one.

    Another consideration is that these guys will all be a year older in 2015 so as they age in baseball terms the chances of improvement diminish.

  2. KSparkuhl says:

    Tonight was a literal and moral victory for the Dodgers, scoring a walk-off win in what was a scoreless tie. Paul Maholm pitched his best game, picking up Josh Beckett with a heroic effort. Great win!

  3. OldBrooklynFan says:

    The Dodger offense has been for a long time it’s weakest link in bad and good times. Pitching, both the starting and bullpen have always been their strength. Why this is, is hard to comprehend.
    Most of the time the pitching is so good that it makes them a winning team. This could also be the reason why it’s hard for them to go deeper into the postseason. I’m sure they’re putting forth their best effort to improve their offense.

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