Column: Dodgers are facing a Texas-sized depression after Game 3 loss to Astros
Los Angeles Times sports columnist Bill Plaschke previews Game 4 of the World Series between the Los Angeles Dodgers and the Houston Astros.
This is one bad hangover.
Two days after one of the most devastating losses in franchise history, the flattened Dodgers stayed down, stared up, and watched the Houston Astros continue to swagger their way through this World Series.
Just when you thought it couldn’t get any worse, it became Texas-sized bad, the Dodgers following their Game 2 collapse with a Game 3 meltdown Friday night in a 5-3 loss at Minute Maid Park that took the locals back to their dark side.
Remember that team that went 52-9 at one point this summer? Well, these were the guys that went 1-16.
Remember the team that rode Clayton Kershaw to a Series opening win? That team is now trailing two games to one and must rely on postseason newbie Alex Wood to pull them out of the hole against Houston’s Charlie Morton in Game 3 Saturday night here.
“The Dodgers have a lot left in the tank, this series is far from over, we’re going to come back from this,’’ said Enrique Hernandez afterward in a second consecutive quiet clubhouse.
On Friday night, this was awfully ugly.
This was starting pitcher Yu Darvish never getting comfortable, never acting engaged and, frankly, barely even showing up.
This was the defense recording a new statistic that could be called a triple-bobble — they committed one throwing error, one fielding error and blew one big throw.
This was an offense that collected only four hits while botching it badly on the bases.
For the Astros, the win wasn’t all that great either, their victory marred by a racial insult delivered by one of their stars.
After starting the surge against Darvish with a second-inning leadoff homer, the Cuban-born Yuli Gurriel sat in the dugout and openly mocked the Japanese Darvish, lifting the corners of his eyes and appearing to mouth the Spanish word “Chinito’’ which, translated, means “little Chinese boy.’’
Gurriel later apologized, and Darvish said he wasn’t angry, but it doesn’t matter. Regardless of Gurriel’s motivation or Darvish’s understanding, it came across as a racially offensive gesture and baseball needs to swiftly and strongly punish it. No institution in this country, particularly one that calls itself America’s national pastime, can stand idle while one of its members so openly mocks another for his heritage.
Gurriel should be suspended immediately, and there is recent precedent for such action. Earlier this season, Oakland’s Matt Joyce was suspended for two games for shouting an anti-gay slur at a fan in Anaheim, while Toronto’s Kevin Pillar was also suspended for an anti-gay slur directed toward Braves pitcher Jason Motte.
Said Gurriel: “In no moment did I intend to make an offensive gesture toward him. If he was offended, I ask for his forgiveness. That wasn’t my intention.’’
Said Darvish: “I saw it but, for me, it personally doesn’t bother me. But I’m sure the Astros have Asian fans and there are a lot of Asian people all over the world and to those people, from a humanistic perspective and as a baseball organization, I thought the Astros image might suffer as as result.’’
Rob Manfred, baseball commissioner, is scheduled to meet with Gurriel on Saturday and could decide on possible discipline then. Here’s hoping he does the right thing and benches Gurriel immediately.
Dodgers’ from left, Corey Seager, Cody Bellinger, Chase Utley and Brandon Morrow meet on the mound in Game 3.(Wally Skalij / Los Angeles Times)
The Dodgers’ Cody Bellinger walks back to the dugout after striking out in the fourth inning.(Wally Skalij / Los Angeles Times)
Dodgers’ from left, Yasmani Grandal, Josh Fields, Clayton Kershaw and Kenta Maeda stand during Astro introductions before Game 3.(Wally Skalij / Los Angeles Times)
Astros closer Brad Peacock is all smiles after shutting the Dodgers out in 3 2/3 innings and striking out four.(Robert Gauthier / Los Angeles Times)
Dodgers starter Yu Darvish leaves the game in the second inning after surrendering four runs to the Astros.(Robert Gauthier / Los Angeles Times)
Yuli Gurriel hits a second-inning leadoff homer off of Dodgers starter Yu Darvish. Video of Gurriel making an apparent racist gesture in the dugout after the homer surfaced on social media during the game.(Robert Gauthier / Los Angeles Times)
Justin Turner of the Dodgers walks back to the bench after popping up against the Astros in the eighth inning.(Wally Skalij / Los Angeles Times)
The Dodgers’ Yasiel Puig sits quietly in the dugout during Game 3 of the World Series.(Wally Skalij / Los Angeles Times)
Yasiel Puig of the Dodgers chases a ball that goes foul.(Wally Skalij / Los Angeles Times)
The Dodgers’ Corey Seager loses his helmet as he runs the bases on a hit by Justin Turner in the sixth inning.(Wally Skalij / Los Angeles Times)
Dodgers pitcher Yu Darvish, center, watches the game form the dugout in the ninth inning. Darvish started the game but was relieved in the second inning.(Wally Skalij / Los Angeles Times)
Dodgers pitcher Yu Darvish stands on the mound during the second inning.(Wally Skalij / Los Angeles Times)
Yasiel Puig of the Dodgers strikes out in the ninth inning against the Astros.(Wally Skalij / Los Angeles Times)
The Astros’ Jose Altuve tags out the Dodgers’ Yasiel Puig, who was trying to reach second base on a hit in the fourth inning.(Wally Skalij / Los Angeles Times)
Dodgers catcher Austin Barnes bobbles the ball as the Astros’ Marwin Gonzalez scores a run in the second inning.(Wally Skalij / Los Angeles Times)
Astros first baseman Yuli Gurriel is greeted by teammate Carlos Correa after homering in the second inning against Dodgers starter Yu Darvish.(Robert Gauthier / Los Angeles Times)
A dour group of Dodgers watch from the dugout as a pop foul sails overhead in Game 3.(Robert Gauthier / Los Angeles Times)
Astros starting pitcher Lance McCullers Jr. raises a fist to fans as he leaves the game in the sixth inning.(Robert Gauthier / Los Angeles Times)
Dodgers catcher Austin Barnes can’t make the tag on the Astros’ Josh Reddick at home plate in the fifth inning.(Robert Gauthier / Los Angeles Times)
The Dodgers Justin Turner scores on a wild pitch by Astros reliever Brad Peacock in the fifth inning.(Robert Gauthier / Los Angeles Times)
Dodgers’ catcher Austin Barnes can’t make the tag on the Astros’ Josh Reddick at home plate in the fifth inning.(Wally Skalij / Los Angeles Times)
Dodgers pitcher Yu Darvish walks off the field after being taken out of the game in the second inning.(Tom Pennington / Getty Images)
Astros’ center fielder George Springer makes a diving catch to save a run off the bat of the Dodgers’ Chris Taylor in the fifth inning.(Wally Skalij / Los Angeles Times)
The Astros’ Jose Altuve tags out Dodgers Yasiel Puig, who was trying to reach second base on a hit in the fourth inning.(Wally Skalij / Los Angeles Times)
Houston Astros shortstop Carlos Correa, left, relays to first base in time to complete a double play after forcing out the Dodgers’ Chris Taylor.(Larry W. Smith / EPA)
Yasiel Puig is tagged out by Astros second baseman Jose Altuve after trying to stretch a single into a double during the 4th inning of game 3.(Robert Gauthier / Los Angeles Times)
Dodgers shortstop Corey Seager can’t reach a bloop single by Astros catcher Brian McCann during fourth-inning action.(Robert Gauthier / Los Angeles Times)
Dodger Austin Barnes sits after Astro Josh Reddick scores from first base on an error in the fifth inning.(Robert Gauthier / Los Angeles Times)
The Houston Astros’ Yuli Gurriel celebrates his home run as Dodgers catcher Austin Barnes watches during the second inning.(Matt Slocum / AP)
The Houston Astros’ Yuli Gurriel is congratulated by George Springer after hitting a home run during the second inning.(David J. Phillip / AP)
Yu Darvish looks to the outfield as Yuli Gurriel homers in the second inning.(Robert Gauthier / Los Angeles Times)
Yuri Gurriel hits a second-inning leadoff home run off Dodgers starter Yu Darvish in game 3.(Robert Gauthier / Los Angeles Times)
Dodgers centerfielder Chris Taylor chases down a first-inning double by Astros leadoff hitter George Springer.(Robert Gauthier / Los Angeles Times)
The Dodgers’ Logan Forsythe singles in the top of the second inning.(TANNEN MAURY / EPA)
The Dodgers’ Yu Darvish pitches during the first inning.(Jamie Squire / AP)
A giant American flag is held on the field as the national anthem is performed.(Tim Bradbury / Getty Images)
Fans gather along the third base line during pregame warmups before Game 3 of the World Series at Minute Maid Park.(Robert Gauthier / Los Angeles Times)
Dodgers fans chant and clap in support of the players warming up on the field before Game 3.(Robert Gauthier / Los Angeles Times)
Yasiel Puig plants a kiss on his hitting coach Turner Ward during intorductions before Game 3 of the World Series.(Robert Gauthier / Los Angeles Times)
Joc Pederson heads to batting practice before Game 3 of the World Series at Minute Maid Park.(Robert Gauthier / Los Angeles Times)
Dodgers first baseman Adrian Gonzalez watches batting practice before Game 3.(Robert Gauthier / Los Angeles Times)
Dodgers players shag balls in the outfield before Game 3.(Robert Gauthier / Los Angeles Times)
Meanwhile, the Dodger have to figure out how to stop rolling out these late-August messes in the middle of baseball’s biggest October stage. On Friday night it wasn’t supposed to be like this. Who could have thought it would happen like this? In the wake of their late-inning collapse in a series-tying Game 2 on Wednesday night at Dodger Stadium, it was presumed the resilient Dodgers would quickly recover.
They didn’t. They stayed flattened. It started with Darvish, who took the mound with a 2-0 record and 1.59 ERA in this postseason. But a day earlier, he gave a press conference during which he seemed uncomfortable and uncertain.
Those who thought the moment might be too big for him were right. He allowed a double to George Springer on his fifth pitch of the game and never stopped reeling, collapsing in a flurry of Astros line drives in the second .
By the time Darvish was mercifully removed, he had allowed four runs and six hits in less than two full innings while inducing just one swing-and-miss amid his 49 pitches. The Astros batted .600 against him. It was the shortest outing of his five-year career.
Darvish will be seeking as much as $175 million this winter in free agency. Here’s guessing the Dodgers could have trouble connecting those numbers with the ones he produced Friday.
The four runs were all the Astros would need because the Dodgers could never find their legs. Or their bats. Or their arms.
Then, an inning later, Yasiel Puig should have been standing safely on second base after hitting a line drive into the corner beyond third base. But he inexplicably stopped running after crossing first, then tried to recover by sprinting to second, but he was thrown out.
Puig was also involved in the Dodgers’ run-producing fielding blunder, as his throw to the plate after a throwing error by pitcher Tony Watson was just off target, allowing Josh Reddick to score from first on the play.
On this night, that was just one of the many misses by the Dodgers, who need to have their memories erased. Their Game 2 collapse was a long time ago. They are facing a must-win Game 4. They need to get up and moving. They need to do it now.
The Los Angeles Dodgers in the 2017 World Series
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