LOS ANGELES -- In May, when the Los Angeles Dodgers fell behind by a run or two in the fourth inning, it felt as if their path was being blocked by a sleepy Brachiosaurus. They weren't going anywhere.
Now, when they fall behind 6-0 in the seventh inning, against one of the hottest pitchers in baseball and one of the best teams, with the fatigue seeping deep into their bones, it feels as if a ladybug has settled on the path in front of them.
They either step on it or it gets out of the way.
The Dodgers did the nearly impossible Friday -- according to one of those probability programs, their chances to win were less than 1 percent in the eighth inning -- but it never felt all that improbable. They rallied for all seven of their runs in the final three innings for a 7-6 defeat of the Tampa Bay Rays, scoring four times off closer Fernando Rodney.
When the Dodgers were at their low point, losing in lifeless, low-scoring games early in the season, manager Don Mattingly said he wanted to be the kind of team that never considered itself out of a game. By now, we can probably safely say they've become that team.
Even when they're operating on a few hours of sleep after spending the previous week in the Central time zone, and then flying half the night. Even when their fielding in the early innings feels as if it needs a laugh track.
The Dodgers sleepwalked until they realized they might actually lose Friday night. When you see a team start to take on that kind of identity, able to will itself to wins, you can see the makings of a special season.
"Everybody knows we got in late. We know we got in late and came off a road trip, but even with that, these guys still came out to play," Mattingly said. "We feel like we can win every day."
And they're proving it, day after day, week after week, soon to be month after month.
The Dodgers are 18-3 since the All-Star break, 35-8 since June 21, and pretty much immune to their opponent. They looked sleepy and uninterested while sweeping four games from the hapless Chicago Cubs. They kept right on going, winning four of the next five against powerhouse teams, the St. Louis Cardinals and the Rays.
You always wonder when a team's fortunes will change. They invariably do in baseball, at some point, right?
Even if none of that were true, the Dodgers would still go into each of those games feeling as if they would win. They'll keep thinking that way until the evidence suggests otherwise.