Only three days ago, the Dodgers were riding a 10-game win streak, they were tied with San Francisco for first place in the National League West, and their rotation was being touted as one of the best in recent baseball history.
Now look at them: The Dodgers got four singles and lost to the Colorado Rockies, 6-0, before 27,108 in Coors Field on Wednesday night, the first time they have been shut out in 60 games in the Rockies’ stadium, to fall two games behind the Giants.
Right-hander Darren Dreifort was rocked for six runs and nine hits in three innings, the second consecutive game in which a Dodger starter was bombed, and Manager Jim Tracy said Dreifort’s surgically repaired right knee was bothering him again.
Think things couldn’t get worse? Wait, there’s more: Outfielder Brian Jordan may be headed for the disabled list after getting hit in the left hand by a Shawn Chacon fastball in the fifth inning.
“As soon as I took my [batting] glove off, the swelling was huge,” Jordan said. “I thought it was broke. That was the scary part.... If the pain doesn’t go away [in a few days] something might be wrong.”
Jordan was pulled from the game and sent to a local hospital for X-rays, which the Dodgers said were negative, but Jordan said it might be “seven to 10 days” before the extent of the injury can be determined.
The severity of Dreifort’s injury was just as difficult to discern. Dreifort had excellent velocity during his laborious 88-pitch outing, hitting 95 mph consistently, but too many of his pitches were up in the strike zone.
“Dreifort had trouble because his knee was a little bit sore -- that was the reason it was tough for him to get started,” Tracy said. “He was throwing 95, but he was up in the zone. It obviously was difficult for him to get down through his pitches, and 95 up in the strike zone in Coors Field is not going to work too well.”
When Dreifort, who missed a year and a half because of elbow and knee problems, was asked about his knee afterward, it was as if he never had surgery on it last summer.
“I’ve got no excuses,” Dreifort said. “I didn’t pitch well, I didn’t execute, I was behind on a lot of guys, and a lot of pitches were up. You can’t do that. I got us in a hole right out of the chute.”
Asked if he felt the pain in his knee was manageable, Dreifort said, “No excuses. Bad pitching.”
Pressed further on the matter, and when told his manager said the knee was bothering him, Dreifort was polite but stern.
“What difference does it make?” he said. “My pitches were up, I was behind in the count, I gave up six runs. It was not a good outing.”
It was a great outing for his counterpart, Chacon, the Colorado right-hander who gave up two singles in eight innings, struck out seven and walked one to improve to 7-2 overall and 6-0 with a 2.61 earned-run average in eight Coors Field starts.
Left-hander Vic Darensbourg added a scoreless ninth, giving the Rockies their 11th combined shutout in Coors Field history.
The Dodgers, meanwhile, are wondering what happened to that great rotation. After combining for a 10-0 record and 1.63 ERA during the 10-game win streak, Kazuhisa Ishii and Dreifort have combined to give up 11 runs, nine earned, and 12 hits in eight innings of the last two games for a 10.13 ERA.
Dreifort ran into trouble when Ronnie Belliard lined a double to right to open the first, and Mark Sweeney homered to right-center for a 2-0 lead. A bases-loaded walk to Greg Norton made it 3-0 before Chacon struck out to end the inning, marking only the sixth time this season an opponent has batted around against the Dodgers.
The Rockies added a run in the second on Walker’s RBI single, and Chacon’s two-run single through a drawn-in Dodger infield made it 6-0 in the third.
A few days ago, the Dodgers marveled at how their starting pitchers were feeding off each other, how one starter would try to out-do the previous day’s starter during the win streak.
After Wednesday night’s game in the meat grinder that is Coors Field, the Dodgers probably lost their appetite.