What the hell happened to the Dodgers? It's a question a lot of people are asking, but don't really have a good answer to. The team that couldn't lose if they tried after the month of April, now seemingly can't pull a win out of a paper bag if their life depended on it. The Dodgers have lost ten in a row, and 15 of their last 16, but still have the best record in Major League Baseball.
Before August 26, a day that might end up living in infamy, the Dodgers were 91-36. They had the best starting pitching in baseball. They had the best relief pitching in baseball. They also had one of the best offenses in baseball. Since that fateful day when they fell at home to the Milwaukee Brewers 3-0, their bullpen stinks (5.27 earned run average), their starting pitching is awful (6.32 ERA), and, with a 6-5 home defeat to Colorado on Saturday, were able to get their batting average during this stretch up to .200.
The numbers make it clear. The Dodgers are suddenly horrible in every category, but why? Starting pitchers Rich Hill, Kenta Maeda, and Hyun-Jin Ryu can't get through five innings. Alex Wood, who had an All-Star first half, seems inured or just worn out. Even Clayton Kershaw was tagged for a three-run homer in the first inning against the Rockies, and newly acquired Yu Darvish is having the same season he had in Texas—not very good.
Relievers can't get outs either, and Pedro Baez, who gave up several runs twice at home last weekend, was booed by the home fans. It's hard for closer Kenley Jansen to close if the team never has the lead. Corey Seager has a sore elbow, Cody Bellinger isn't hitting home runs at the same pace, Chris Taylor's batting average is coming back to earth, Logan Forsythe is booting ground balls, and Curtis Granderson couldn't hit before he got here, and after an early grand slam, it's gotten worse.
In September, manager Dave Roberts has a lot of players to choose from. He had minor league stud Walker Buehler on the mound against the Rockies in a 2-0, and after the rookie walked the bases loaded, Roberts left him in there to face Mark Reynolds. Grand slam. They say that managers don't win or lose games, but the skipper did not help matters there, and has more than made his own contribution to the streak.
No team in the history of baseball has won 15 of 16, and lost 15 of 16 in the same season, until now. The Dodgers hadn't lost 10 straight in 25 years, but they haven't won the World Series in almost 30. They just finished a homestand and lost all seven games—the first time in the history of Dodger Stadium (1962) they have lost every game in a homestand of six games or more. That's in 55 years. And, believe it or not, the 10 game losing streak is the longest in the majors by any team this year—and it comes from the team with the best record.
When the Marysville Gold Sox were still traditionally winning three-quarters of their games and had gone into a franchise record seven-game losing streak, manager Jack Johnson referred to the losing as a “stinky funk.” The Dodgers are showing what a stinky funk looks like when it gets a September call-up.
Note: Tonight's Dodgers-Giants game in San Francisco was delayed by rain after one out was recorded, but resumed in the top of the first inning at almost 11pm. While we understand that it's important to get the game in, playing the game was a disservice to the 40-thousand plus fans who bought a ticket to the game, and then went home. It's nice to stay up late and watch on TV, but had the game been rained out, fans would have gotten their money back, or tickets to the makeup game. Listening to the game while writing this, we're learning that rain is in the forecast for the rest of the week, and the Giants say they couldn't get a staff together in time for a day-night doubleheader tomorrow.
We Are the Champions: Eveyone was joking in August that the Dodgers would clinch their division by Labor Day, but it's the Washington Nationals that are the first team to pop some bubbly and celebrate a playoff berth. The Nats won and the Miami Marlins lost Sunday, giving the Beltway Boys a 20-game lead, and the National League East crown.
Saved By Zero: If the Dodgers don't win another game for the rest of the regular season, they'll still probably end up in the wild card game against the Colorado Rockies. Going into tonight, the Dodgers magic number to clinch a post-season berth was 3, meaning either the Milwaukee Brewers or the St. Louis Cardinals would have to go 17-2 or better (and the Dodgers 0-20) for the Dodgers to miss the playoffs.
Hot Hot Hot: As cold as the Dodgers have been, the Cleveland Indians have been twice as hot. They won their 19th straight game tonight, defeating Detroit 11-0. It's the longest win streak since the Moneyball Oakland A's won 20 in a row in 2002. During this streak, the Indians have outscored their opponents by exactly 100 runs.
You've Got a Friend In Me: A great sports moment at the end of the US Open women's tennis final when best friends Sloan Stephens and Madison Keys faced each other in the first major championship match for either player. Stephens defeated Keys rather soundly, but consoled Keys in a long embrace at center court after the final point. Stephens also sat next to Keys on Madison's bench, instead of keeping to herself, while the two awaited the trophy presentations.
Feels Like the First Time: Opening week of the NFL season has meant some high-profile network broadcasting debuts. Former Dallas Cowboys quarterback Tony Romo will be paired with the venerable Jim Nantz, and the pair did the Oakland Raiders-Tennesee Titans game. The second game of the ESPN Monday Night doubleheader between the Los Angeles Chargers and Denver Broncos featured Beth Mowins and Rex Ryan in the booth. Ryan, a former NFL coach, is making his broadcasting debut. Mowins is no stranger to ESPN or play-by-play, but becomes the first woman to call an NFL game on television or radio.
Oops I Did It Again: In the first quarter of the Chargers-Broncos game tonight, the referee announced the penalty “on San Diego”. He knows the Chargers play in LA now, but it will take some getting used to for all of us.
I Will Survive: I didn't participate in a fantasy football league this year, but I signed up online for something called 'Survival Football. All you have to do is pick one team to win. If that teams wins, you get to play again next week, and see how long you can 'survive' the season. If you last all year (17 weeks), you're eligible for some million-dollar prize. One catch, you can only pick one team once. I picked Carolina (to beat San Francisco) and they won, but I can't pick the Panthers again. On to Week 2.