There’s no explaining it, which doesn’t mean it isn’t real. It could all disappear tomorrow too, but you’d have a difficult time convincing the Dodgers of that.
Right now in this young season, the Dodgers are quickly coming to the belief that there is no deficit they cannot overcome, no game they fall behind in that they cannot come back to win.
Tuesday for the second consecutive night, they rallied and won a game with a walk-off hit. When Howie Kendrick singled in two runs in the 6-5 victory over the Seattle Mariners, the Dodgers acted as if they expected it to happen.
Which last year would have been unthinkable.
Despite winning their division, despite winning 94 games, they were a horrendous comeback team. They were an unsightly 2-54 in games they trailed after the sixth inning. Not once in 56 games did they come back to win a game they trailed after the eighth.
This season they’ve won five games and had comebacks in four of them. They’re already 2-2 in games they trail after the sixth. They’ve won two games they trailed after the eighth, or two more than all of last year. (Correction: Stat taken from Dodgers' official daily notes was incorrect; Tuesday was first victory when trailing after eight innngs. Possibly they were confused by scoring three in bottom of eighth to win opener?)
“It creates confidence and expectations for the whole team knowing that it doesn’t matter how many runs we’re down by, we still have outs left so we still have a chance to win the game,” said infielder Justin Turner.
“You’ve seen it two nights in a row where we come from behind and end up getting a walk-off hit. It’s contagious and creates confidence for every guy on the team.”
Monday night it was Alex Guerrero capping several rallies with the walk-off hit. Tuesday it was Turner and Jimmy Rollins getting base hits, and Adrian Gonzalez drawing a walk to load the bases before Kendrick delivered his game-winner.
It’s very, very early, but this Dodgers team appears to have a resiliency last year’s team did not.
“It just depends on the character of the players,” Kendrick said. “You get guys believing you can do it. We’ve had some games early this year where we’ve come back from deficits and tied the game up and went on to win. All that stuff keeps building and building.
“Anytime you’re down guys start believing, ‘Hey, we can come back.’ You play nine innings and are never really out of the game. You keep putting on one run at a time and before you know it you’re right back into the mix.”
Maybe this goes to that deeper, tougher lineup that new management was so keen on building. Maybe it’s a reflection of adding veterans like Kendrick and Rollins. And maybe it’s just its own creation, developing early in the season.
“It’s fun to watch, fun to be a part of,” Turner said. “Every guy in the lineup goes up and takes a good at-bat and is a tough out. Starting pitchers get their pitch-counts up and we get them out of the game and into the bullpen.”
And into rally land, a whole new world from last year.