At some point as I sat in Petco Park, after the euphoria of two Hodad’s bacon cheeseburgers and a Mister Softee vanilla waffle cone had faded, I went numb. Then I slipped into some kind of time/space wormhole of consciousness, and suddenly I wasn’t sure if it was Carl Crawford or Ken Landreaux hitting into soul-crushing double plays, if Rick Honeycutt was coaching in the 15th or pitching in the 15th? Was that Raul Mondesi misplaying a ball into 3-run triple or was it Yasiel Puig?
I’d long given up on any investment in the outcome. It was 1/162, it would have been nice to avoid a sweep, but now the Dodgers not winning but the game simply ending was the goal. And it wasn’t without thoughts on the Dodgers moving forward. Any game that reaches the point where JP Howell is getting at bats, and Dodger fans are giving anticipatory (desperate?) standing ovations on pinch hitting attempts by Clayton Kershaw is one where reality and conventional thought have long since departed.
No, as I sat there in my seats at Petco and the ratio of Dodger/Padre fans tilted further and further to those of us who’d clearly driven down from L.A. and would be damned if we didn’t see this thing through, I must confess that all I really wanted was an ending. Emotionally, I was prepared for some ridiculous Padre (Alexi Amarista? Garry Templeton? Ted Littner?) to walk it off, or shrimp it off like the previous night, or whatever-it off so we could all just get the hell out of town.
This was especially the case after the Dodgers loaded the bases with nobody out in the 14th. That’s when Crawford, whose utility at this point is visible only by high-powered microscope, hit into the aforementioned double play, on the first pitch following four straight balls from reliever Luis Perdomo, who gamely held things down for the Padres until the fateful 17th. Speaking of balls, on a day in sports where it seemed to be going around, the first plate umpire, David Rackley, took a Joc Pederson foul bunt attempt right in the uh….Rackleys, and had to be replaced. Were it not for Rackley’s injury, I’d have gone to this as a metaphor for the game, but now it’s just a bit too on the nose.
This parade of incompetence finally reached its denouement in the 17th, when Puig, of all people, singled in two, this after the Dodgers “executed” a 1-5-3-4-3 circus routine that ended with Melvin Upton, Jr. tagged out heading back to first after a wayward throw from Howie Kendrick put the Padres on the verge of victory.
So the Dodgers won 9-5, now stand closer to last place than to first, and sit in third place four loss column games back of the Giants who took two of three from the mighty Cubs. We now arrive at my thoughts on the big picture, which is really the only one that matters now that the Dodgers are out of Petco Purgatory.
Yesterday was about pure survival, simply having the resolve to endure until the thing was done. That’s largely what this stage in the season is about, as well. The Dodgers were always on borrowed time with this roster. Having 1,211 guys on the DL to start the season was going to catch up to them eventually, and that coinciding with major slumps from presumed cornerstone players (Gonzalez at home, Puig, Turner, and Grandal everywhere), the mystery meat of the bullpen and the shakiness of the rotation was and is not the formula for any kind of sustained success.
But that’s the point. If this roster were what the Dodgers were going with for all of 2016, I’d understand the resignation, the onset of sanguine concessions that the season is over, and the whining. But it’s not. The cavalry is on the mend. Ryu and McCarthy are progressing on their rehab assignments, Scott Van Slyke is already playing in games, and even Frankie Montas (all but forgotten as the key acquisition of the White Sox trade under the wave of Trayce-Mania) has started making appearances again. Add to that the potential debut of Julio Urias, the return of Andre Ethier, and the fact that some of these hitters are too good to be this bad for an entire season.
The timing of this Putrid Storm has also been unfortunate because it’s come during arguably the Dodgers’ toughest month of the year. After this week’s home series against Cincinnati, the Dodgers go to New York and then to Chicago to face the Mets and Cubs. It is likely gonna get worse before it gets better. Deal with it, and know that better times are ahead.
This is not to say that the Dodger concerns aren’t easily dismissed. It’s still on these hitters to turn it around, as well as the rest of the rotation besides Kershaw to figure out how to get through a third time through a batting order, and for somebody other than Kenley Jansen (this past weekend notwithstanding) to be able to handle a high-leverage late inning. It’s just to say that with 117 games left on the schedule, tapping out on the season makes little sense.
Clayton Kershaw pitches today. Rejoice.