Andre Ethier broke the silence in the near-empty clubhouse.
“Why such long faces?” he said. “It feels awkward.”
The dozen or so reporters in front of him laughed.
Ethier’s hitting streak ended at 30 games with an 0-for-4 game Saturday, leaving him a game short of the franchise record established by Willie Davis in 1969.
Meanwhile, the Dodgers’ losing streak continued, extending to four games with a 4-2 defeat to the New York Mets at Citi Field.
“I thought I’d go out on a high note, that we would have a win to show for it,” Ethier said. “I guess two negatives don’t make a positive in this situation.”
Ethier, who walked once, said he was more upset by his failures in key situations than he was by the end of his streak, which started April 2.
He pointed to how he flied out with the bases loaded to end the top of the second inning.
He noted that if he had singled in his final at-bat, James Loney could have advanced to third base and Matt Kemp would have stepped to the plate with men at the corners and the score tied, 2-2, in the eighth inning. Instead, Ethier struck out.
The Mets blew the game open in the bottom half of that inning, as relievers Mike MacDougal, Hong-Chih Kuo and Matt Guerrier were collectively charged with two walks, an error and a hit that led to two runs.
That was the kind of watershed moment that evaded the Dodgers the entire night.
The Dodgers stranded 14 men on base. They were one for 13 with men in scoring position.
Three times, they loaded the bases.
All three times, they failed to score.
“We need some thump in our lineup,” Ethier said.
The Dodgers dropped to four games under .500. They lost for the fifth time in six games. For the 21st time this season, they were held to four runs or less.
Manager Don Mattingly continued to insist that the abysmal run production is a result of uncharacteristically poor form, as opposed to a lack of talent.
“We’re better than this,” he said. “I know that for sure.”
Mattingly acknowledged that the Dodgers lineup has several players with low on-base percentages who don’t draw many walks. But he said that shouldn’t prevent them from scoring runs.
“It’s who we are,” Mattingly said. “You have to be good at what you do.”
By that, he meant the Dodgers have to be more selective. Continue to swing but don’t swing at everything.
Mattingly said he made it a point to speak to several players throughout the day to make sure they haven’t become discouraged by their recent form.
“We can’t let that bring us down,” he said. “It’s like letting 20 at-bats affecting your next 300.”
Mattingly said he was certain the Dodgers wouldn’t start thinking of themselves as a team incapable of scoring.
“I don’t see that happening here,” he said. “These guys have confidence in themselves.”
At least Ethier seems to.
Dealing with an increased media presence in New York, Ethier was always pleasant.
“It’s like a bad breakup right now,” he said. “I’m not going to see a lot of your faces anymore.”
As his question-and-answer session came to a close and reporters departed from his locker, Ethier called out, “Don’t be strangers, guys.”