LOS ANGELES -- Matt Kemp said the Los Angeles Dodgers "needed this as a wakeup call," after the Arizona Diamondbacks finished a sweep with Wednesday's 4-0 win at Dodger Stadium.
That's funny, because manager Don Mattingly had set the alarm for three days earlier. Did somebody accidentally hit snooze?
The minute the Dodgers completed their sweep of the San Francisco Giants up north over the weekend, Mattingly started worrying about Monday, about a hot team coming to town and about his team losing its edge coming off an emotional high.
"This series scared me from the very beginning," Mattingly said.
He had seen it too many times before. He saw it as a player after his New York Yankees would leave Boston after doing good things. In this case, his worst suspicions made him a prophet.
The Dodgers outscored San Francisco 19-3. Arizona outscored the Dodgers 19-4. So, does that mean Arizona would have beaten San Francisco 38-7? OK, probably not, but it means that the Dodgers have a lot to learn about grinding their way through a difficult schedule if they're going to be postseason contenders.
Mattingly figured it was time to offer that reminder, so he gathered his guys together for a brief closed-door team meeting after the game. The series put a bit of a damper on the family-day festivities that followed on the field, though the toddlers didn't seem to mind as they shot off balloons and frolicked in the bouncy house.
It might be a good time for a little relaxation. The Dodgers have an open date Thursday, which is probably well-timed since they haven't had one since July 19 and need to shake off the vibes of one of their worst series of 2012.
It began with some promise, too. Already having added slugging infielder Hanley Ramirez, Dodgers GM Ned Colletti then traded for catalyst Shane Victorino and a couple of proven relievers, Randy Choate and Brandon League. Could the additions have been part of the problem, at least in the short term?
Victorino went 0-for-4 and, as reporters filed into the clubhouse after the game, quipped, “All right, I got that piece of junk out of the way.”
It does sometimes take a while for a team to find some chemistry after a series of upheavals near the trade deadline. The Dodgers can't wait long if they want to track down the Giants while fending off the Diamondbacks. The wild card is looking increasingly unlikely.
Mattingly wondered whether the injection of All-Star caliber talent caused his team to relax too much, as left-hander Patrick Corbin, Arizona's Triple-A call-up and a former Angels prospect, absolutely dominated his team.
"I've seen it in the past. We've seen teams that, all of a sudden get guys and you start waiting like, 'Who's going to do it. Oh, if I don't do it the next guy will,' " Mattingly said. "Well, that can't happen. You have to take the responsibility on to make the guy work for his outs, that's all."