And unless they snap out of what has now become a month-long funk, their slide down the standings might only be beginning.
With a 7-3 loss to the San Francisco Giants on Sunday at Dodger Stadium, the Dodgers not only fell behind their cross-state foes in the National League West but also suffered their first home sweep in the rivalry since August 2012 — the last season the Dodgers failed to make the postseason.
For now, this year’s squad is still safe in the wild-card race, holding a one-game edge over the Philadelphia Phillies for the NL’s last playoff spot. But with 18 losses in their last 30 games, the Dodgers (39-33) are four games out in the division, only 3½ games clear of the fourth-place San Diego Padres, and headed squarely in the wrong direction ahead of series against the Angels and Houston Astros this week.
“It’s not the ideal situation right now,” first baseman Freddie Freeman said. “Every day, we come in with the right attitude, right mindset. And by the end of the day, it’s another loss.”
Starting pitcher Tony Gonsolin was the biggest culprit Sunday.
After beginning the game with three perfect innings, the right-hander faltered in the fourth (giving up two runs on a walk, hit batter, sacrifice fly and RBI single), the fifth (a run on an RBI groundout after giving up two hits) and the sixth (charged with four runs in an inning in which he managed only two outs).
“My execution really just suffered after that third inning,” Gonsolin (4-2) said. “Balls left up in the zone. They got some soft hits that kind of just fell down and some hard hits that helped. Overall, the execution really just wasn’t there.”
The seven runs Gonsolin yielded marked a career high. His three walks were a continuation of his season- and career-long issues of being “too fine” with his command in critical moments. And though his 2.92 ERA is still the best on the Dodgers’ rotation, his inefficient performances have underwhelmed compared with his All-Star breakout last season.
“Today was probably the first day I saw that, as he got up a little bit in the pitch count, the stuff wasn’t as sharp,” manager Dave Roberts said.
Roberts cited several other issues that hampered the Dodgers on Sunday.
In the fourth inning, left fielder David Peralta made the wrong decision on a throw back into the infield, allowing a runner at first base to advance to second on a tag, setting up an RBI single in the next at-bat.
In the fifth, both Peralta and Freeman misplayed balls hit to them, leading to another Giants run moments after the Dodgers had cut San Francisco’s lead in half.
Then, when given one last lifeline in a bases-loaded situation in the ninth, the Dodgers came up empty aside from a run-scoring hit-by-pitch, finishing the day two for 13 with runners in scoring position and stranding 11 on base.
“When you’re not winning games, things get magnified,” Roberts said. “I think if you look back at this two-week stretch, there’s a lot of things we’re just not doing well. We’re not playing clean baseball, fundamental baseball. It goes back to, not just trying to win, but focusing on the little things.”
Freeman downplayed the suggestion the Dodgers might be pressing. He said the team hasn’t reached the point of panic either, even though the club hasn’t been in third place this late into a season since 2018.
“It’s one of these trying points to the season where you gotta grind and keep coming every single day,” he said. “Show up and expect to win. That’s the thing. Our team is way too good to keep going like this and go through this stretch. … We know we’re better than this.”
That’s what the Dodgers are continuing to believe, anyway.
But the longer their losing skid extends, and the further down the standings they drift, the harder it will be for them to explain away their struggles. To keep calm in the midst of an increasingly spiraling season. To maintain confidence in a turnaround they still seem to believe is an inevitability.
“I can’t tell you a specific answer of why this is happening,” Freeman said. “It’s just, we need to stop it and play better. That’s pretty much it. I know you want a specific thing to say. There isn’t. It’s just, we got beat at home, swept three games, and Tuesday we need to start playing better.”
This story originally appeared in Los Angeles Times.
Source: Yahoo Sports