WASHINGTON – Los Angeles Dodgers manager Don Mattingly is pretty adamant about cutting this one down before it gets legs.
His team is not -- repeat, NOT -- tired. So, if he had his druthers, you would skip reading the next paragraph.
“When you go into spring training, you know things like this are going to happen, and I just don’t think you can allow it to be an excuse,” Mattingly said. “You’ve got to play. At the end of the day, you either won or lost, and nobody’s going to come back later and go, ‘Well, they played four of those games after they traveled.’ To me, it’s not worth talking about, because it’s an excuse built in.”
Perhaps he’s right, but Monday night the Dodgers looked a little sluggish early and, by the time they got through sitting in the clubhouse for more than three more hours, they looked like a team walking in its sleep through a 4-0 loss to the Washington Nationals. This has been building for a while.
This trip figured to be a bit of a hassle before the Dodgers even left the 90-degree temperatures and sunshine of Southern California behind. Minnesota-Miami-Washington isn’t exactly a direct line on most travel-agency junkets, and there were no days off along the way to ease the travel.
Then it got ugly. A Canadian cold front slid into Minnesota, bringing snow and rain and the Dodgers were forced to play a Thursday day-night doubleheader after a rainout. The second game lasted more than five hours and dragged over 12 innings. They got to Miami the next morning at about 8 and looked awful getting shut out for seven innings.
Skip ahead to Washington, where the forecast called for off-and-on light rain showers Monday evening. By the time the third inning came along, it proved to be steady, cold rain that didn’t let up for the next three hours. So, the Dodgers, again, retreated to the warmth of the clubhouse and tried to figure out how they’re going to continue squeezing so much work from an overtaxed bullpen.
Again, Mattingly’s not big on discussing it.
“Welcome to the East Coast, really,” he said. “You do this 10 to 15 times a year out here, and that’s what you do.”
So, at least the Dodgers have that going for them right now. They’re pretty happy with the climate in their home stadium.
But there have been all sorts of little casualties of this draining trip, the latest being Zack Greinke's long streak of competence. For about an hour into the delay, he was hoping he would be able to go back out for the fourth inning, but that became unrealistic as the rain continued to come down. Thus, his streak of 18 consecutive starts in which he’d allowed two runs or fewer and lasted five innings or more -- a record since records became reliable, in 1914 -- fell.
Like Mattingly, he wasn’t in mourning.
“I mean, it’s not really like it’s an important streak,” Greinke said. “No one really cares about it anyway. If it was like, consecutive-wins streak or something more important than that, it’d mean a little bit more.”
So, for now, the Dodgers are fine. There’s not much to talk about. And, no, they’re not tired.