Remember when the 2013 Dodgers could come from behind to erase any deficit? No game was ever out of reach with the 13 Dodgers. One run, two runs, five, or six runs, no deficit was too high, no score was too much for the offense. But the 2014 Dodgers are different. They fold up like a chair when they’re behind in the late innings.
The Dodgers of this season follow the same script and it’s hard to figure out. The club is simply incapable of coming from behind late in games.
Normally if the Dodgers have a lead, or the game is tied, they’re fine. They usually win if that happens. But if the club is trailing after the sixth or seventh inning you can pretty much kiss the game good night. It’s a recurring theme this season with the offense, and it’s becoming infuriating. If the Dodgers are down early, or trail late in the game, they give up.
When I say they “give up” I mean it literally. They stop trying to score and generally just strike out every other at-bat. Failing to make contact is a big indicator. Wednesday’s 6-1 loss to the Pirates was a perfect example of many of these failed rallies. The offense managed just fiver hits off of a pitcher who has just two wins this year. Both of course are against the Dodgers.
There are times when the offense does make an attempt to come back. It happens every once in a while. For example the second game against Pittsburgh on Tuesday saw the offense rally from deficits of 4-2, and 8-4. The offense was able to pull within one run at one point in that game. This is a rarity. And normally when it does happen the bullpen will blow the game wide open anyways.
Despite the offense putting up semi-productive numbers, they consistently are unable to score late in games.
Check out the numbers. From innings one through six the Dodgers have a slash line of .269/.335/.410, and an OPS of .745. That ranks the club fifth in all of Baseball. During the first six frames of a game the Dodgers have hit 55 home runs and scored 307 runs. They rank sixth with 230 walks.
From the seventh inning or later the Dodgers are hitting .232/.315/.364 with an OPS of .680. They’ve hit 23 home runs, and scored just 118 runs. That ranks them 24 in MLB. From the eighth inning on the club is slashing .226/.305/.346 with an OPS of .651. The Dodgers have hit 15 home runs and scored just 67 times from the eighth inning on. Hang on it gets worse.
What’s the club batting in the ninth inning on? This would also include all of those extra inning games the club lost earlier in the season. The Dodgers are batting .206/.289/.321 with a .610 OPS in the ninth inning or later. They’ve hit just eight home runs, and scored just 29 runs. The Dodgers are batting just .191 in the ninth innings. Adrian Gonzalez is batting .129 in the ninth innings. Matt Kemp is hitting .083 from ninth inning on. Puig is hitting .130. Andre Ethier is hitting .192 in the ninth, and Carl Crawford is hitting .176.
Those are pathetic numbers indeed. As a matter of fact, I can only remember the Dodgers having one come from behind or walk-off win the entire season. Just one. So unless the Dodgers get an early lead, they lose.
You could say that the club is facing tougher pitchers later in games. I guess you could make that argument. But this has been going on all season. You have to be able to hit those good relievers sometimes. You can’t just give up.
The question is, what is causing this problem? Why can’t the offense score runs late in games? I ask myself this question a lot and have still been unable to find an answer. Do they get tired late in games? I suppose this is possible. But if it’s not a physical issue, then it’s probably a mental one.
The more I think about it and the more games I watch and write about, the more I am convinced it is a mental block. The club simply gets depressed when they are losing and they give up. You can tell from their plate approaches. Too many strike outs. There is too much swinging for the fences. They don’t work counts, and the situational hitting becomes lackluster. Their shoulders slump, and they look defeated. When trailing after seven innings the club looks listless and depressed.
Maybe this is something the coaching staff is missing? It would seem that the coaching staff should be able to provide some kind of wisdom in this situation. But then again, these are all veteran major leaguers, (Most of them anyways, Yasiel Puig not withstanding), and they probably don’t need the coaches holding their hands or telling them how to play Baseball. Who knows maybe they need a Baseball shrink?
Then again, if they didn’t need help they wouldn’t be giving up after the seventh inning. This leads me to believe it’s all in their heads. Is it a mental problem? I have no idea, but if the club expects to go anywhere this season, they’re going to have to figure it out.
The 2013 Dodgers were never out of games. No lead was safe with that team. The 13 Dodgers had magical comebacks nearly every other game. That offense instilled fear in opposing clubs. No game was ever over until the final out with those 2013 Dodgers.
The 2014 Dodgers are a sad different story. If the Dodgers are unable to come from behind and score runs late in games, then I am afraid they are not a championship caliber club. What happened to the magic from last season? it has all but disappeared. Not even David Copperfield could help this offense.