A regular season that began with question marks ended that way for the Dodgers, who were shut out by pitcher Don Robinson and the San Francisco Giants, 1-0, Sunday before 44,055 at Dodger Stadium.
The questions, of course, have changed. In the spring, there were doubts whether the Dodgers had the players to win the National League West title. Now, the Dodgers wonder whether some of their most-needed players will be physically ready for the playoffs, which begin Tuesday night against the New York Mets.
Left fielder Kirk Gibson, who aggravated his strained left hamstring Saturday, still is limping badly and questionable for Tuesday night, though he said he would play.
John Tudor, scheduled to start Game 2 Wednesday night, will test his right hip injury by throwing off the mound in a workout today at Dodger Stadium. His status is as uncertain as Gibson’s.
The Dodgers also will announce today whether Fernando Valenzuela, who said his left shoulder was OK after making his second outing Saturday, will be included on the playoff roster.
Manager Tom Lasorda said he has made up his mind about Valenzuela, but would not announce his decision. Valenzuela said his season has ended.
And, the Dodgers still have to decide the status of starting pitcher Tim Leary, whose lengthy slump has clouded his position in the playoff rotation. Leary, who Lasorda said is tired after pitching a full season plus winter ball, allowed 1 run in 5 innings Sunday. Leary (17-11) walked 3 and struck out 1 in his best outing in nearly a month.
Fred Claire, the Dodgers’ executive vice president, said he will turn in the playoff roster this afternoon after watching Tudor and conferring with Lasorda and the Dodgers’ medical staff.
The biggest decision will be whether to include Valenzuela instead of left-handed reliever Ricky Horton, who had previously been ineffective but pitched a scoreless inning in Sunday’s loss. Another option is to expand the pitching staff to 10.
There are many variables, not the least of which is Tudor’s injury.
Tudor, who received an anti-inflammatory injection one day after suffering muscle spasms in his right hip Friday night, will let management know how he feels after his workout.
“He really doesn’t feel (the muscle spasms) walking,” said Pat Screnar, the Dodgers’ physical therapist. “Pitching is the test for him. We’ll see how he feels.”
Conceivably, Tudor could be scratched as the Game 2 starter, if he feels his hip needs more time to heal, and return to pitch in one of the three games in New York over the weekend. In that case, Tim Belcher would start Game 2 on 3 days of rest.
Another factor is Valenzuela’s recovery from his second outing--4 innings of relief Saturday--after missing 2 months with a strained left shoulder.
Valenzuela reported minimal stiffness, which he called normal. But he was wary that he would not have enough warm-up time to pitch in relief and not enough stamina to pitch as a starter.
“I think my season’s over today,” Valenzuela said Sunday. “But it’s not my decision. It’s Fred and Tommy’s decision. If they ask me to pitch, I will.”
“It’s tough,” he said of relief pitching. “You have to know how to warmup. In relief, you don’t know when you’ll have to pitch. (Saturday), I knew when I was going to come in, so that’s different. Ten minutes is enough time to warm up. But 1 or 2 minutes, that’s not enough. And sometimes, that is (all) you have.”
The Dodgers hope Gibson will recover in time to play Tuesday. He vowed Saturday to play despite his injury, and Dr. Frank Jobe said it is likely Gibson will improve enough to be in the lineup Tuesday.
“Kirk was still limping, but he said he was feeling better,” Jobe said. “I think what I said yesterday, that he’ll be able to play, is still right. I think he’ll be all right.”
Screnar said giving Gibson an injection, which they did not consider, probably would not accelerate the healing process this close to the playoffs. In the past, when Gibson has received injections, it usually has taken 72 hours before he could play again.
“He did not get an injection,” Screnar said. “This is a problem he feels was aggravated from extending himself to 6 innings the other night. . . . He’s being treated, the full complement of treatment.”
The Dodger injuries don’t stop there. Utility player Dave Anderson has aggravated his chronic lower back injury. Trainer Bill Buhler said Anderson injured his back taking infield practice before Friday night’s game against the Giants.
Anderson has taken extensive treatment the last two days.
“It’s the same thing,” Buhler said. “He should be OK.”
Leary was saying the same thing about himself Sunday. Leary said that though he feels some fatigue, it is not the reason for his slump.
“My mechanics are off a little,” he said. “I’ve worked on them. I haven’t had as good of ball movement. I don’t know why people keep saying, ‘fatigue, fatigue, fatigue,’ because it has been mechanical.
“I’m still planning on pitching one of the games in New York. I think I’ll be ready.”
Lasorda remains vague when asked about the status of Leary, Gibson, Tudor, Horton and Valenzuela.
“Nothing’s changed,” Lasorda said. “We’ll know a lot more (today). I’m betting that Kirk will play and John will pitch. But I don’t know.”
The Dodgers, who ended the season with a 94-67 record, had just 3 hits off Robinson, who earned his 10th win. The Giants scored their run when Matt Williams singled in Candy Maldonado from third base with one out in the second inning. After Tim Leary’s departure, relievers Ramon Martinez, Alejandro Pena, Ricky Horton and Jesse Orosco pitched an inning each and combined to allow only 1 hit and 1 walk. . . . The Dodgers said right fielder Mike Marshall was given permission to leave Dodger Stadium before the start of Sunday’s game to be with his infant son, who is hospitalized. Marshall also missed Wednesday night’s game in San Diego because of the illness of his son, born Aug. 25. . . . The Dodgers fell short of reaching the 3-million fan mark for the second straight season. However, had they not had 3 games rained out, they almost assuredly would have drawn the 19,738 fans necessary to reach 3 million for the eighth time. The Dodgers did show a substantial increase from last season despite playing two less games.
FINAL Sunday’s attendance: 44,055 1988 attendance (78 dates): 2,980,262 1987 attendance (80 dates): 2,797,409 Increase: 182, 853 1988 average per date: 38,208