Travel-weary Dodgers hurt by lagging offense in loss to Rockies
After a successful trip to Atlanta this past weekend, Dodgers manager Dave Roberts had hoped his team could keep the party going against the Colorado Rockies on Monday night.
Instead, the Dodgers suffered one of their most lackluster displays of the season in a 4-0 loss at Coors Field, getting shut out by Rockies starter Chad Kuhl in what felt like the baseball equivalent of a hangover from the long night, and series, before.
“We didn’t really deserve offensively to win that game,” shortstop Trea Turner said. “Our pitchers did a pretty good job of giving us a chance late. But offensively, we were pretty bad. It happens.”
The Dodgers (45-27) had started their current nine-game road trip with two successful stops. They swept three games against the Cincinnati Reds last week. Then they took two of three against the Braves over the weekend, winning an 11-inning, nearly 4½ hour marathon Sunday night.
That game, however, delayed the team’s arrival to Denver for a three-game set with the Rockies (32-42). They didn’t land until close to 3 a.m. Monday. The Dodgers skipped batting practice later that afternoon to give their players extra rest.
“I think you could probably kind of see everybody’s dragging a little bit,” second baseman Gavin Lux said.
“It’s not ideal,” Roberts added. “But you still gotta go out there and play.”
After ‘thinking about this for three months,’ Freddie Freeman returned to Atlanta and found a way to work through some unresolved feelings.
From the start, the Dodgers looked low on energy and absent of execution.
Their lineup flailed against Kuhl, who became the first pitcher to throw a complete-game shutout against the Dodgers since Steve Wright of the Boston Red Sox in 2016.
Relying mostly on a sinker-slider combination, the right-hander faced the minimum number of batters through six innings, gave up just three hits overall and did it all on only 102 pitches.
“We just didn’t make any adjustments,” Roberts said. “I felt we had a really good game plan. We just didn’t execute it [the] first couple of times through.”
The Dodgers’ starter, former Rockie left-hander Tyler Anderson (8-1), surrendered runs in the first two innings before giving up a two-run homer to José Iglesias in the sixth, raising his ERA to 3.23 on the season.
“Usually when you come to this ballpark, you feel a starter going six innings, giving up four runs, you still have a chance to win,” Roberts said.
Instead, the Dodgers stayed so far adrift, not even a failed manager’s challenge in the second inning or a baserunning mistake in the fourth, when Lux got doubled off trying to advance to second on a fly ball, factored much into the final result.
“At the end of the day,” Lux said, “we got to find a way to compete a little better probably.”
The struggles at the plate were most glaring for a Dodgers team that is still missing Mookie Betts — whom Roberts said is feeling better from a rib fracture but still hasn’t resumed baseball activity — and has struggled for much of June, a three-game outburst against the Reds’ porous pitching staff aside.
Since the start of the Braves series, the team has scored just nine runs in its last 36 regulation innings.
Max Muncy, Justin Turner and Cody Bellinger are still getting everyday at-bats, despite all posting below league-average numbers.
And on nights when the top of the order doesn’t deliver — on Monday, the top three of Trea Turner, Freddie Freeman and Will Smith combined to go one for 11 — the whole lineup has a tendency to look lost.
Roberts doesn’t believe the Dodgers are cooling off, insisting that their approach in Atlanta was better than some of the results suggested. He noted the Braves have one of the majors’ best pitching staffs. His explanations for Monday’s flop were less convincing.
He gave credit to Kuhl (5-5), a six-year veteran with a career 4.38 ERA.
He accounted for the travel difficulties but said they weren’t an excuse.
“Tonight was probably one of those nights we’d like to have back,” he said.
The Dodgers lose pitchers Daniel Hudson and Andrew Heaney to injury.
Though the Dodgers didn’t win the National League pennant last year, Roberts will be in the home dugout next month when the All-Star Game comes to Dodger Stadium, accepting an offer from Braves manager Brian Snitker to join the NL coaching staff for the Midsummer Classic.
“It is a huge honor,” said Roberts, who has previously managed the NL team three times in his career. “First one in Los Angeles in many years and decades. So to kind of represent the Dodgers, be on his staff, it’s great.”
Freeman was awarded NL player of the week honors after batting .440 with two home runs and 11 RBIs in six games last week, concluding with an emotional return to Atlanta over the weekend.
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