Tuesday, August 7, 2012
Is this offense stuck on awful?
By Mark Saxon
Shane Victorino, left, Matt Kemp and Andre Ethier could really help the Dodgers if they got their bats going.
LOS ANGELES -- If the Los Angeles Dodgers' players and coaches find themselves scattered across the country and watching the playoffs in their recliners and designer couches come early October, Tuesday night's 3-1 loss to the Colorado Rockies is one of those games they can point to as a culprit.
Then again, so are April 22, June 19, July 8, Monday night and about 20 other days and nights of offensive futility.
The biggest concern for the Dodgers isn't that they're failing to fire at the appropriate time -- with a pennant race just beginning to form -- it's that they misfire so often. How can this team rely on winning a big series in September when its offense is capable of disappearing on back-to-back nights against the worst pitching staff in the majors? Imagine what's going to happen when they're facing aces and the pressure makes keeping a loose grip on the bat even harder.
By the standards of this Dodgers season, Tuesday wasn't even particularly remarkable. The Dodgers actually hit some balls hard, though not very often. Juan Rivera sent a couple of deep drives to the warning track that would have been home runs in the majority of major league stadiums. Had they been, the postgame analysis would have taken an entirely different spin.
But nothing seems to settle this offense into a night-to-night groove. Not the return to health of the team's best hitters. Not an infusion of talent at the trade deadline. Not a Colorado pitching staff that's so strapped, it's going with four starters limited to about 80 pitches a night.
This wasn't rock bottom. That came a couple of months ago. This, unfortunately, is pretty much the way things are and that's the biggest reason the Dodgers are starting to look like long shots to make much noise in October.
"There was nothing about the effort or us wanting to [win] or taking these guys lightly. I don't think any of that was part of what happened tonight," manager Don Mattingly said. "It was just the matter of us not getting the hit. Guys, I thought, tried a little too much."
Virtually every team's salvation when it's struggling is the extraordinary length of the major league schedule. And the Dodgers really haven't begun to play their most meaningful series yet.
They also have reason to believe their offense could be better than it has been at any point in 2012. Newcomers Shane Victorino and Hanley Ramirez have been doing some good things lately. The key hitters are all healthy.
But those are just reasons to hope. The Dodgers remain near the bottom of every offensive category and, if teams aren't careful, hope has a way of abandoning them at this time of year.