This Dodger-Angel series reminded me of the Garry Shandling line about a romantic interlude.
When it was over he asked his partner, “Was it good for you?”
She replied: “I don’t think that’s good for anybody.”
There wasn’t much joy in either clubhouse at Edison Field after the Angels’ 3-1 victory Sunday. Angel Manager Mike Scioscia, whose team swept the series, had to spend a lengthy closed-door session with a grumpy pitcher. And his team still needs help from the heavens to get into the playoff picture.
The Dodgers, a percentage point behind Philadelphia in the National League wild-card race and within three games of the West division-leading Giants, are rapidly becoming a team of silent bats and vocal critics of the front office.
Sunday marked the fourth consecutive start in which pitcher Odalis Perez has given up three earned runs or fewer -- and he has three losses and a no-decision to show for it. He has had it with the roster’s inability to produce offense, as he indicated in this series of comments:
* “If we keep playing the way we’re playing, there’s no way for us to go nowhere.”
* “We need to start producing, or get some other players to produce, because all the pressure’s on the pitching staff ... and that’s not fair.
* “The trade deadline is coming. If we don’t make a move, we’re going to waste this season like last season. If we don’t score runs, we don’t produce, we’re not going to win.”
It’s too early to say the Angels are back or the Dodgers are done, but the one thing we do know after this series is that Dodger General Manager Dan Evans has to bring in more offense. The Dodgers scored two runs over the weekend. Each day that passes digs Evans into a deeper hole, makes it look as if he’s dealing from desperation rather than simply trying to add to a contending club.
Meanwhile, Mike Lowell keeps bashing home runs for the Florida Marlins while the Dodger “offense” (Can we still use that term? Isn’t that as much an oxymoron as “Clipper long-term strategy?”) stagnates.
Fred McGriff, Evans’ primary off-season acquisition, continues to sit on the shelf because of an injured groin. McGriff has hit a total of 10 home runs -- which, sadly, is enough to lead the team.
Brian Jordan is busy denying that he’s about to have career-ending knee surgery. Shawn Green struggles to hit the ball out of the infield.
And all the while the Dodgers insist that the answers are within, if only the bats can get hot.
“Everybody’s saying that, but within hasn’t happened yet,” Jordan said. “It’s going to be interesting to see what happens in the next couple of weeks.”
Manager Jim Tracy is stuck in the middle. He gets asked every day if the Dodgers are going to make a move, and he says that isn’t his department. He can’t disparage his current players too much or he’ll lose them (although he might be doing that anyway with some of his decisions).
Before Sunday’s game he said: “Any thought of a savior coming and lifting the multitude and carrying the team across the finish line is a ludicrous thought.”
He’s adamant that one player alone won’t change the team’s fortunes.
But it could spark a chain reaction. Put a solid hitter behind Green, force opposing teams to pitch to him and see what that does for Green’s batting average and power statistics
Get another force in the lineup and see how it prevents promising innings from turning into dead ends, such as the bottom of the second Sunday when the Dodgers had runners on first and second with none out, only to have Alex Cora hit into a double play and Cesar Izturis strike out.
The only reason the Dodgers are still contending is because they have outstanding pitching -- which the Angels could use.
Angel opponents scored six or more runs in 13 of their first 30 games, contributing to their 13-17 start. It happened in two of three games against Seattle last week.
But after they shut down the Dodgers, center fielder Darin Erstad said: “It was just a matter of time until they started clicking.”
The problem is, it wasn’t in time.
And it’s difficult to assess them because they played the Dodgers.
After great outings by John Lackey, Kevin Appier and Aaron Sele in the series, Sunday winner Sele was asked if this marked the start of a new season for the Angels.
“No,” he said.
No need to get carried away. The Angels still trail the American League West-leading Seattle Mariners by 11 1/2 games. There are four teams ahead of them in the wild-card chase. That World Series-winning magic is long gone.
“It’s not like our whole identity has changed,” Scioscia said. “We’ve had, maybe, guys not firing on all cylinders, which has given us a lack of production. But this club’s identity has not changed. We know what’s going to make us win. We need to bring that consistency every game.”
Outwardly, the only thing that appears the same as last year is Scott Schoeneweis is unhappy with his role. His 26 innings pitched are the fewest of anyone on the team except closer Troy Percival, who spent 13 games on the disabled list. So Schoeneweis griped to Scioscia on Sunday.
The Dodgers didn’t need to state their complaints behind closed doors. Their beefs were right out in the open for reporters to hear. Why try to hide it?
After scoring two runs in their 27 innings in Anaheim, it’s not too hard to see what’s wrong.
J.A. Adande can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.