- Mark Saxon, ESPN Staff Writer
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The Los Angeles Dodgers are getting awfully close to the point of no return.
For a while, you could blame injuries. Not anymore. Matt Kemp is the only impact player still on the disabled list and, frankly, what Yasiel Puig has given the Dodgers in his absence is at least as good as anything Kemp has ever managed, even when he was in MVP form.
It's not bad breaks, not after 72 games. It's not a particularly grueling stretch of schedule any more.
The Dodgers simply can't win, their 5-2 loss to the San Diego Padres on Friday night the latest example. They've lost nine of their last 12 games. Only one team in the National League, the Miami Marlins, has more losses than the Dodgers' 42.
The Dodgers are 12 games under .500 for the first time and 9 1/2 games out of first place for the first time. Heck, they're seven games behind the Padres.
Of course, stranger things have happened than this team turning it around, but betting on that doesn't exactly seem like the smart play right now. If bringing up your best prospect and seeing him bat .455 with six home runs in the first few weeks isn't enough to give you a spark, what is?
The fact the Dodgers have won only half of Clayton Kershaw's starts tells you a lot about this season. Poor run support and shaky relief have made Kershaw's record look deceptively bad most of this season, but Friday night he actually looked like the .500 pitcher he is.
When Kershaw (5-5) struggles, it's often against the Padres. Three of Kershaw's five losses this season have come against San Diego.
There are a lot of reasons why the Dodgers are in last place. The one that has received the least attention is shaky fielding. The Dodgers have made 56 errors, tied with the Houston Astros for most in the majors.
As usual, the only real highlight was provided by Puig, who has 30 hits in 17 games. Puig bounced a ball off the hard dirt in front of the plate to the shortstop and legged it out for a single in the eighth inning. Puig also tagged up and advanced to second on Adrian Gonzalez's deep fly to right, eventually scoring the Dodgers' second run.
Puig scored when Hanley Ramirez, the other Dodgers hitter currently producing, lined a double to left-center field.