LOS ANGELES -- Thursday was shaping up to be the story of Don Mattingly returning to Los Angeles and how he schooled Dave Roberts in a four-game series.
As it turned out, it was another former member of the Dodgers who stole the spotlight, and for all the wrong reasons.
Dee Gordon’s 80-game suspension after a positive test for “performance-enhancing substances,” according to a release from Major League Baseball, put both clubhouses in a somber mood Thursday.
The Dodgers already were low after getting swept in a four-game series by the Marlins for the first time, but the suspension was given to a friend to some, and a former teammate to many. Another disappointment the Dodgers had to feel was that Gordon was allowed to play in the game and delivered the game-tying RBI single for the Marlins in the seventh inning.
One member of the Dodgers expressed shock and sadness over the situation when leaving the clubhouse.
“Obviously two different ends of the spectrum for us,” Mattingly said afterward. “You would expect our guys to be in there excited and then we get this news, so not quite the feeling [you’d expect] but from there we’re going to support Dee. These guys love Dee and he feels like one of my kids, to be honest, I’ve known him for so long. We’re gonna love him and then we’re gonna move him forward.”
Roberts’ transition to life as a big-league manager had looked fairly seamless until this week.
Roberts took a roundhouse blow to the chin Thursday and the haymaker was delivered by none other than the man who was in his seat last.
The Marlins’ four-game sweep did not even feel as close as the scores might have indicated. The Marlins won Thursday’s finale by a 5-3 spread and easily won the series by a combined 16-8 margin.
For every move Mattingly attempted to positive results, Roberts seemed to counter with something totally ineffective. The signature moment came Thursday, when Pedro Baez came on in relief of Kenta Maeda in the seventh inning, threw one pitch and allowed inherited runners to score on a single and a balk.
In the bottom of the seventh, the Dodgers ran themselves off the field with sloppy baserunning, and Marlins slugger Giancarlo Stanton arrived as the human exclamation point with a home run in the eighth. Stanton hit a home run in three of the series’ four games.
“I think that they came in here and pitched well and scored runs and they outplayed us,” Roberts said. “For them to come in here and win four, we have to turn the page and clean things up and get ready for tomorrow.”
Both teams are actually in that mode, with the Marlins possibly in a lower place than the Dodgers. In the Marlins' clubhouse after the game, there was no music, no confident voices, just silence as most people spoke in whispers. It looked and sounded nothing like a team that had just rolled to the sweep.
“We’re going to get on a plane right now,” Marlins president Mike Samson said. “I couldn’t be more proud of the job [general manager] Mike Hill and Don Mattingly are doing. We are just coming off a four-game sweep in Los Angeles. I don’t remember that in my career. We’re going to get on a plane and go to Milwaukee and, at 7:05 [p.m.] Central time, there will be a first pitch thrown.”
The Dodgers will have to rebound as well. There isn’t likely to be any recourse for losing a game to a player who was then immediately suspended for performance-enhancing substances.
Samson was asked when the team knew about the suspension.
“We were alerted today,” Samson said. “The Marlins completely support the Major League Baseball drug prevention program in every way. That said, it is a huge disappointment and a huge loss for our team. And as I said, we love Dee Gordon, but we do not love what he did.”