Column: Bumbling Dodgers are a bust in the Santa Ana wind

Los Angeles Times sports writers Andy McCullough, Dylan Hernandez, and sports columnist Bill Plaschke break down the Los Angeles Dodgers’ Game 3 loss to the Milwaukee Brewers in the NLCS.

The guttural roar heard throughout Dodger Stadium early Monday afternoon was a current of air whipping down from the Elysian Hills, bending palms, toppling trash cans.

By nightfall, though, the whoosh wasn’t the wind, it was the wipeout.

It was the sound of Dodgers flailing at Milwaukee Brewer fastballs with their useless bats. It was Cody Bellinger waving at a fly ball he did not catch. It was Yasmani Grandal whiffing at just about everything, everywhere, at the plate, behind the plate, you name it.

In the end, that rumble was also boos — those rare postseason boos — as the Dodgers meekly fell to the Brewers, 4-0, in Game 3 of the best-of-seven National League Championship Series.


“Right now, it sucks,” said Bellinger, standing among dazed teammates in a quiet locker room afterward.

Yeah, it sort of does. While the Dodgers only trail two games to one in the series — far from an impossible deficit — Monday’s game was supposed to be their sure bet.

They were coming home to a place where they had gone 8-2 in their last 10 postseason games, their best playoff streak in more than 30 years. They were coming home with their best starting pitcher on the mound in whiz kid Walker Buehler.

All this, and the league’s best home-run hitting team was surrounded by swirling Santa Ana winds that would surely benefit someone in this town by carrying their monster mashes into the pavilions.

“I expect the ball to be flying a little bit today,” said Manager Dave Roberts before the game with a grin.

He wasn’t smiling afterward. The only thing his team sent flying was their bats and gloves and even shin guards, in anger, failure after failure.

At least one of them was also disappointed in the Dodgers fans, who didn’t fill the building despite a reported sellout and who rarely roared — perhaps, because, who knows, they didn’t have much to cheer about?

“We had no energy, the stadium had no energy, the fans had no energy. It was a real bad game for everybody that calls themselves Dodger,” said Enrique Hernandez, who went 0 for 2 and is hitless in six at-bats in this series.

Hernandez later smartly modified his tone by adding, “Fans here do a great job of showing up and packing the stadium every night and having a lot of passion for the team. Tonight, for whatever reason, I guess, as contagious as energy can be from the fans to the players, it was from players to the fans tonight.”

So he wound up acknowledging the blame for this mess rested with his team. Good, because it did. Against journeyman starter Jhoulys Chacin and four relievers, The Dodgers collected all of five hits. They were hitless in 10 at-bats with runners in scoring position. They struck out 14 times. They allowed one run after a misplayed triple and a bouncing wild pitch. They cost themselves a scoring chance after Manny Machado was cited for an illegal slide into shortstop Orlando Arcia, resulting in a double play.

They ended the game with the bases loaded and two chances with the potential tying run at the plate. Grandal struck out with a wild hack. Brian Dozier struck out with a long stare.

In a stadium that was already half empty, boos became groans became the thwacking of seats as fans stood and turned their backs and walked out.

By then, the only last word anyone could muster was a parochial one, witness the local screaming at a group of Brewers fans who were bravely waving yellow towels and chanting for their team.

“You’re from Milwaukee!” shouted the Dodgers fan in the only attempted insult he could manage.

On the 30th anniversary of the greatest World Series homer in Dodger history, Kirk Gibson wept.

“I don’t know if anger is the right word,” said Buehler, who allowed four runs in seven innings, including a two-run homer to Arcia. “Obviously, we didn’t live up to what we wanted to do.”

Dodgers pitcher Walker Buehler talks about his performance in NLCS Game 3.

Anger certainly fits the fan’s reaction to Grandal, the Dodgers’ new postseason villain, the new Yu Darvish, only worse.

Even during the darkest times of last season’s World Series, nobody ever chanted the name of a Darvish replacement, but that’s what the fans did shortly after Grandal couldn’t handle a Buehler wild pitch that allowed Travis Shaw to score from third base in the sixth inning. Shaw had tripled on a misjudged ball that sailed over Bellinger’s head and bounced off the wall.

“We want Aus-tin …we want Aus-tin,” some fans jeered, referring to backup Austin Barnes, in a razz quite unlike any heard at Dodger Stadium in recent memory.

With Grandal’s series ledger showing a .222 average with two errors, two passed balls, the run-scoring wild pitch and numerous failed big opportunities in three games, the fans are going to get their wish.

“We’ll play Austin tomorrow,” said Roberts on Monday night. “Austin will catch.”

Grandal, meanwhile, will apparently sit in the dugout with some feeling of defiance.

He said he is not disappointed in being benched. He said the team has not lost confidence in him.

“What I see overall is pretty good,” he said when asked how he keeps his composure during these tough times. “I don’t really hear the voice outside. I value my opinion way over everybody else. That’s what keeps me sane.”

Hernandez also defended his catcher against the jeers, saying, “It sucks that they got loud to [show up] Yasmani … he’s trying his best … catchers have a lot going on … if they think they can do it, put on your gear and go catch 99 and breaking balls with a lot of movement.”

You know what really stinks? Those fans — who set an attendance record this season and are among the most loyal and passionate in all of baseball — will now not get a chance to watch the Dodgers play their way into the World Series.

This loss means the Dodgers can only win the NLCS back in Milwaukee next weekend. It means they face a virtual must-win game Tuesday night with recently inconsistent Rich Hill on the mound, and then must hope the Good Clayton Kershaw shows up for Game 5.

“We have to show up tomorrow and win a game,” Bellinger said.

And another one. And another one. Which will never happen if they play like they played in this one.

The Dodgers departed Chavez Ravine on Monday night under quiet skies, the wind blowing directly in their face.

Get more of Bill Plaschke’s work and follow him on Twitter @BillPlaschke