SAN DIEGO — For seven innings, it was a game that glittered with the
Then, in what felt like seven minutes, it was a game that swallowed them up in their worst fears.
What began as a nice first chapter highlighted by great pitching and smart hitting devolved into a woeful opening verse of lousy relief, shoddy fielding, managerial second-guessing and a giant poke in the belly of the $250-million beast.
What began as a pleasant night at
It was a sweet opener, until the Dodgers forgot to close it, losing a one-run lead in the eighth inning in a 3-1 loss to the
No, they aren't in Australia anymore, where they started the season with two wins. They're also not in last autumn anymore, when
Where are they, exactly, after two games down under and one game that was just ... down? Maybe a tad stunned, possibly a little edgy, but mostly awash in the stark realization that even baseball's richest team is going to have to roll up its sleeves for every bit of nine innings.
"We'll let this one hurt for a while, it's good for us," catcher
Some fans think the mistake began in the dugout, where Manager
For several reasons, that second-guessing doesn't work. First, Ryu said he was tiring and asked out of the game. Second, the Dodgers' game plan this season is to work the starters seven innings if possible and then give the ball to Wilson and closer
"[The situation] is what we want, we'll take it every night … that's the blueprint for us," Mattingly said. "Your starter gives you a good seven, your back end is as good as ours, you're going to feel pretty good at that point."
Yet, three pitches into Wilson's night, the Dodgers felt absolutely awful as
"It was about not being able to get ahead of the hitter, then throwing a pitch that was uncharacteristic of me," Wilson said. "From there, the tire deflated."
Psssst. Wilson walked
Then it was Uribe's turn to mess up, as he charged too far from third base on a bunt try by
"You feel like you got yourself in a position to win, we feel like we'll win our share of those right there," Mattingly said.
Last year, yes. This year, everyone expects the same, the Dodgers having been picked by everyone to win the
But who knows. Things felt different in Sunday's nationally televised "opener," and not only because the Dodgers had already played two games.
Neither of the Dodgers' two most visible owners, Mark Walter or
On the field, it was also different to see the Dodgers' aggressive bats struggle, with
One of the few familiar sights at Petco was the play of
In more Puig news — can there ever be enough? — there has been clarification on a report last week that Mattingly called a team meeting about Puig. Actually, it was Puig who summoned several players hanging around the clubhouse and asked them if anybody had a problem with the way he played.
One veteran spoke up. Then another. Both had the same problem, that Puig was playing too fast and loose with their championship hopes.
There is no sign yet that he has listened, but at least on this night, the losing story revolved around the older guys.
"It's a hard one to swallow," Wilson said shortly after a hopeful Dodgers nation quietly took the 2014 season's first uncomfortable gulp.