LOS ANGELES -- Without taking the brain power to think too deeply about it or the antacids to digest the complex reasons for it, this is simply how the Los Angeles Dodgers’ season has gone lately.
Right as the clubhouse starts to get good vibes, just as the fans start to buy in all over again and around the time when the team they are chasing starts to collapse, things go haywire, and the promise that was poking through morphs right back into concern.
That is what happened Sunday. Again.
The Dodgers had a chance to sweep with one of their better starters, Josh Beckett, on the mound against a quite hittable Bronson Arroyo and an Arizona Diamondbacks club they had rolled through this season. That sweep never happened in the 6-2 Father’s Day loss.
Instead, doubt once again raised about this team’s ability to find consistency.
You don’t have to go back far to find the last time this happened. It was last week when the Dodgers went into Cincinnati and dominated the first two games against the Reds and still had Hyun-Jin Ryu and Zack Greinke to handle pitching duties in the final two games. At least a series win seemed inevitable, but the Dodgers lost both games and were right back to an 8½-game deficit in the National League West.
“It’s too warm for Christmas,” Dodgers manager Don Mattingly said before Sunday’s game when asked if he felt the team was starting to click after two wins against Arizona. Mattingly also noted he was asked a similar question in Cincinnati after those first two wins.
Entering Sunday, the Dodgers trailed the San Francisco Giants by 6½ games in the division, and, up until the eighth inning in San Francisco, it looked like the lead would increase. Fortunately for the Dodgers, the Giants had another bullpen fiasco and the lead kept at 6½.
Still, what looked like a week that could've been a turning point ended up as just OK at 5-3.
"That’s what happens in this game," Mattingly said. "It looks bad at one point, and then 10 days later, you feel like you’re getting momentum, but only time will tell if it’s true momentum where we can sustain it over time."
Momentum has certainly come at the expense of Arizona. The Dodgers are 10-4 against the Diamondbacks, the last-place team in the NL West, but they are 3-7 against the Giants. Think about that. The Dodgers are three games over .500 because they’ve played the Diamondbacks 14 times, not really because they have proven to be a quality team.
The Dodgers play the Diamondbacks only five more times this season, and they don’t play the Giants again until July 25. There are only nine games remaining against them.
That could cause some scoreboard watching from the Dodgers' dugout.
"I watch the scoreboard all year around, not necessarily during the game," Mattingly said. "But it’s too early for all that. We have to take care of ourselves."
While a solid week could have been better, the Dodgers are showing small signs of playing better ball lately, such as a bad defense not committing an error in seven games before Sunday and being able to win on the road.
"If we can try to gain a game every series or not lose ground, come a month, we’ll be in a really good spot," first baseman Adrian Gonzalez said. "We’re starting to play better baseball. We can’t realistically think we’re going to win every game. Today was a game where you tip your hat to the other team. They flat out beat us."