LOS ANGELES -- After they got swept out of San Francisco this weekend, losing three tough one-run games, the Los Angeles Dodgers sounded like they still felt pretty good about themselves.
Manager Don Mattingly told reporters, “I feel better about our club walking out of here than I did walking in.” Co-owner Magic Johnson tweeted, “Trust me, our Dodgers will get through this tough stretch and have a great season!”
Perhaps they felt just as chipper after an ugly 9-2 loss to the Arizona Diamondbacks on Monday night that dropped the Dodgers into sole possession of last place in the NL West after their fifth straight loss. But then again, maybe not.
It wasn’t exactly a high-water mark for a proud franchise. Carl Crawford made two costly errors in left field and Chris Capuano was pulled before he had gotten an out in the fifth inning, attacking a water cooler and gum tray in the Dodgers’ dugout on his way out.
The Dodgers are 5-14 against their division.
The turning point came in that fifth, after Crawford apparently caught Didi Gregorius’ pop fly leading off the inning. Crawford fumbled it as he was taking the ball out of his glove. The rule book states that the fielder “shall hold the ball long enough to prove that he has complete control of the ball and that his release of the ball is voluntary and intentional.”
It seemed like a ticky-tack call, but these days a lot of things aren’t going the Dodgers’ way. The next two batters, Paul Goldschmidt and Cody Ross, homered off Capuano, and Mattingly sauntered to the mound to get the ball, igniting Capuano's dugout tirade.
Before the game, the Dodgers announced that Mark Ellis was going on the 15-day disabled list. It was the 13th time in 31 games the Dodgers have used the DL this season.
But injuries don't entirely explain why this team is off to such a sluggish start. Matt Kemp is a shadow of the player who electrified the National League in 2011 and the beginning of last season. He had a .671 OPS coming into Monday's game, worse than all but two regular NL center fielders, and he has one home run in 118 at-bats.
Kemp seemed a bit overeager to pick up an extra-base hit when he got thrown out at second trying to stretch a single in the eighth inning with the Dodgers down 6-2.