LOS ANGELES -- Home is where the horrors are for the Los Angeles Dodgers, as they tripped over the coffee table in their own living room once again.
All signs pointed to trouble. The Dodgers entered Monday’s game having played 13 times at home and they were pretty much baseball’s worst hitting team in their own park. They were dead last in the major leagues with a .199 home batting average, while getting on base and hitting for power was not their forte either, as they were second to last in OPS at .596.
“I don’t think it’s anything, it just is what it is,” said Trayce Thompson, who accounted for the only Dodgers runs Monday with a two-run home run in the fourth inning. “There is nothing in particular, it’s just our offense the last couple of weeks that has struggled to score some runs. We’ve had some good games where we have scored a lot, like in Tampa, but we need to start clicking like we were at the start of the season and I feel that will take care of itself.”
That was not just a young player wishing the team’s problems away. If the Dodgers feel unlucky at home, there is a good reason.
The club’s .130 batting average with runners in scoring position at home easily is the worst in baseball. It might suggest a team that presses, however; the club’s batting average with runners in scoring position on the road is .312, third best in baseball.
And for that bad luck? On balls in play at home, the Dodgers’ batting average is .235, worst in the league. On the road, their BABIP is .382, second best in baseball. Balls that find holes in visiting stadiums have not been doing the same at home.
“We’re all a little surprised or frustrated by it because we look forward to coming home and we love playing here and getting in front of our fans,” manager Dave Roberts said. “To not win baseball games here in this short sample is a little frustrating, but it will all even out. We will play well and we will win games here.”
The Dodgers’ play Monday was not only shades of last year’s National League Division Series against the Mets, it was shades of the last homestand, when the Dodgers went 1-6. They lost four consecutive games to the Miami Marlins and two more to the San Diego Padres, before Clayton Kershaw summoned all of his anger and willed the Dodgers to a 1-0 victory in the finale when he drove in the only run.
The problem for the Dodgers is that Kershaw can’t save the day until Thursday, when he takes the mound in the finale of the four-game series.
Dodgers starter Scott Kazmir sent up a warning flare on the first pitch of the game when the Mets' Curtis Granderson hit a home run. The Dodgers would not catch up the rest of the way.
Kazmir gave up one run in four of the six innings in which he pitched, with the offense not able to back him up.
At just 2-3 with a 5.54 ERA this season, including an 0-3 mark at home with a 5.17 ERA at home, Kazmir is far from pleased, but even he can see some positives.
“It could be anything,” Kazmir said of the team’s poor play at home. “You don’t really point your finger at one thing. It could be us pressing too much at home, it could be a number of things. If we get a couple of wins together at home, it gives us the confidence we need to get back on track.”
The Dodgers tried to rally late, but with two runners aboard in the eighth inning, Yasiel Puig struck out and Thompson fouled out. In the ninth inning, Corey Seager flew out to the warning track to end the game.
Even the drama of Chase Utley playing against the Mets again after last year’s sliding incident in the NLDS, when Ruben Tejada broke his leg, delivered nothing. Utley pinch hit in the seventh inning and grounded out twice in the last three innings. Utley is expected to start Tuesday against Mets starter Jacob deGrom.
As of now, though, the Dodgers are 5-9 at home, leading them to a perfectly mediocre 16-16 record exactly five weeks into the new season. Everybody in the clubhouse willing to speak to the issue says this is not a .500 team. They’ll have to start proving it.
“We have to pick it up, but we have a long way to go,” catcher A.J. Ellis said. “We’re going to have to keep coming to the ballpark every day and get yourself ready to go and know there will be a big test on the other side. You trust the guys in this room, trust their character and trust that you have been through a lot of stuff with these guys. We have played deep into October with these guys. We’ll get to where we need to get to.”