That lesson Don Mattingly mentioned the Dodgers might take from losing two of three games to the Red Sox over the weekend?
He expanded on it Monday, giving his team a little slap in the face in the process.
“It’s a series we pretty much got outplayed,” he said.
The Dodgers managed only 11 total hits in the three games, and after winning the opener 2-0 on a late Hanley Ramirez two-run homer, they always seemed to be playing behind in losing for the first time in 19 series.
Mattingly was disappointed the Red Sox seemed to play with more intensity and purpose.
“They’re a team in a dogfight,” Mattingly said. “We can say that, but human nature tells us we have a little bit of a cushion and you get away from that mentality a little bit. I think over there it was a little more intense and more fight in their at-bats. I saw them foul off more tough pitches and just take advantage of everything we did wrong.
“If we’re going to get where we want to go, those are the kinds of teams we’re going to have to beat. That’s how everybody is going to be playing. It kind of gives you a little barometer of the kind baseball you have to play.”
Mattingly said the Dodgers’ anemic offensive showing was more of a less-than-expected dip after playing so well for so long rather than not taking the correct, tough approach to the plate.
“The only concern is, you see three veteran pitchers that basically got ahead in the count,” he said. “Every day you’d look up there is the sixth inning and their pitch count is in the 60s. You’re talking about 10, 12 pitches an inning. It’s way too easy.
“It can happen in a short stretch. And they have good pitching and they’re quality but they’re also a team with veterans that get ahead in the count, and then they’re going to expose you. They understand what they’re trying to do and that’s what happens to you. Again, those are the kinds of people we’re going to have to beat.”
Mattingly doesn’t buy that reshaping the team’s focus on passing Atlanta for the league’s best record (they trail the Braves by two games) would help to eliminate that human nature effect of relaxing with a large division lead.
“I want our focus to be like we’ve always talked about,” he said. “Every day grind it out, don’t make mistakes, get better, throw the ball to the right base, take every extra base, don’t give up any extra bases, don’t give up any at-bats. You play every game like that. That’s really the focus I want. That every game is a game we have to win. You don’t take anything for granted.
“You’re going to make mistakes, but I think our mentality has to be that we don’t make any. We don’t give up any at-bats. We don’t want to give up any runs. We want to get every run we can possibly get. I think that mentality is what I want, rather than worrying about going for Atlanta or whatever. Just worry about ourselves every day and do it every day.”