LOS ANGELES -- On Tuesday night, the superstars who hit for the Los Angeles Dodgers managed to score one run in six innings against a pitcher named Hector Noesi, who is working on his third team this season, the Chicago White Sox, and had lost his previous 14 decisions in the major leagues.
On Wednesday night, they managed just two hits and one run -– despite three walks and two hit batters -– in 7⅓ innings against John Danks, a soft-throwing left-hander with injuries in his past who peaked in his mid-20s and has had a 4.69 ERA over the past four seasons.
Watching those two performances, the last of which was a 2-1 loss Wednesday night, left manager Don Mattingly practically speechless.
After the game, someone asked him how Danks looked.
"Obviously, Danks was good tonight," he said.
Someone followed that up by asking whether Dodgers hitters helped Danks out with impatient at-bats.
"He was just better than us tonight," he said.
So, someone said, did plate umpire Kerwin Danley’s big strike zone play a part?
"No, I thought he was just better than us tonight."
After yet another "better than us," comment, Mattingly finally said, "I mean, I really think you should talk to them. I’m tired of answering the questions, honestly."
But Mattingly did get in one more zinger, a profane one, when he was asked about the Dodgers' 13-19 record at Dodger Stadium.
"Well, home, away, whatever, I don’t know that that’s got anything to do with it," Mattingly said. "It’s just being basically s----. We’re just not that good."
The players didn’t seem to want to wade too deeply into Mattingly’s comments or his pregame thoughts that the team seemed to lack unity. In fact, many of the core players were either not in the room when reporters were allowed in or declined to speak. Matt Kemp wouldn’t talk. Adrian Gonzalez wasn’t in the room for at least 30 minutes. So much for team leadership.
To his credit, Hanley Ramirez agreed to talk.
"I don’t know what to say. I still go out, hustle, do the best I can. Of course you’ve got to be mad," Ramirez said. "We’re not doing nothing right now, so we’ve got to start playing better. Everybody should be angry the way we’re playing right now."
The Dodgers, playing three teams who came here with sub-.500 records, went 4-6 and were held to three runs or fewer six times on this homestand. Now, they’re off to Coors Field to play the Colorado Rockies, one of the few teams playing worse than them, and the question of clubhouse togetherness is going to trail around with this team until it starts answering it with some wins. After Yasiel Puig popped up a bunt for an out in the first inning, cameras caught him and Kemp arguing in the Dodgers' dugout.
So, until we have more information, or until this team starts winning enough for nobody to care, we have to assume that these guys either don't like each other much or simply don't work well together. That seems to be the upshot of Mattingly's pregame/postgame attempt to communicate, through the media, with his team.
"That’s just where we’re at," Scott Van Slyke said. "If we were losing and we were playing the way we should be, I think people would be more accepting of that, but we’re losing and we’re playing the way we’re not supposed to."