The Dodgers lost their ninth straight game on Saturday, tied for the third-longest since the franchise moved to Los Angeles in 1958. The Los Angeles futility record is 10 straight defeats, suffered in both 1961 and 1992.
“I can’t explain it. There is a little bit that seeps in, and things keep perpetuating as far as negativity, where you feel at some point everything goes against you,” said manager Dave Roberts. “It’s the little things you have to focus on to be proactive and get you out of it.”
Just like Friday night, the Dodgers put up a crooked number — this time in the third inning instead of the first — with a hungry packed house at Dodger Stadium eating up every minute of it. An RBI single by Justin Turner was followed by doubles from Cody Bellinger and Yasiel Puig, the latter a two-run two-bagger to pull the Dodgers to within 4-3.
Also just like Friday night, Colorado grabbed its lead thanks to a big inning of their own, this time in the second, to open the scoring.
Longtime Dodgers nemesis Gerardo Parra started the fateful second with a ball off the right field wall for a double. The next ball was hit even farther, this one a ball halfway up the pavilion in left center field by Trevor Story for a two-run home run.
A hit by pitch and a walk were mixed in with RBI singles by Charlie Blackmon and Nolan Arenado, completing the second four-run frame in as many nights for Colorado.
“From an overall stuff standpoint, I felt really good going into today,” Wood said. “I thought the stuff was fairly decent tonight, but the command wasn’t where I wanted it.”
Story added an RBI double in the fifth against Wood, one batter after a sure double play ball turned into a force out when shortstop Corey Seager couldn’t get the ball out of his glove on time for the transfer.
Prior to the All-Star break, when Wood was dominant with a 1.67 ERA, his ground ball rate was 63.5 percent. Since then, his ground ball rate is 44.8 percent in nine starts, to go with a 4.53 ERA.
“He is up more in the zone than he typically is. When he is down and inducing soft contact and balls on the ground, throwing the slider off that fastball down at the hollow of the knee, he’s much better,” Roberts said. “In the big leagues, those few inches above or below the knee are a big difference.”
Even accounting for the run he allowed in the fifth, Wood did settle down after the second inning. Just one of his first eight balls in play were ground balls in the first two frames, but after that 10 of 12 balls were hit on the ground, giving him a 55-percent grounder rate on the night.
“When my ground balls go up, that’s a good sign for my stuff. With the mechanical adjustments I’ve been working on and solidified, I feel good with where I’m at,” Wood said. “The stuff is starting to play again, and now it’s just getting that command clean. Once that comes, I’ll feel pretty good.”
The Dodgers’ best four starting pitchers lined up for this weekend series with the Rockies, and three quarters of the way through the results have not been good. Clayton Kershaw, Yu Darvish and Alex Wood have allowed 14 runs on 19 hits in 13 innings, with eight walks.
“It’s getting to the point now where everybody has to look in the mirror,” Wood said. It’s time to turn it around.
“We are a little stuck in between right now, keeping things in the big picture and thinking about what we need to do to be ready for the playoffs, but losing the last two weeks wasn’t in the cards. It’s time to bear down and turn this thing around, and get some momentum going into October.”
Andre Ethier pulled the Dodgers to within a run with a solo home run in the bottom of the fifth inning, his first of the year. Ethier, in the final year of a five-year contract, got a prolonged ovation, as he has for the last week, even when the Dodgers were on the road against the Padres.
“It’s a fan base that appreciates longevity, and a guy who’s played the game the right way and represented the Dodgers organization the right way. In San Diego, we were joking with him that it was his second home,” Roberts said. “He gets a warm ovation every time he steps on the field, and he’s earned it.”
The only relief pitchers to allow any runs on Saturday were both closers. Kenley Jansen, surrendered a pair of doubles in the ninth inning to give Colorado an insurance run. It was the sixth run allowed by Jansen in 31 home appearances in 2017.
Greg Holland was greeted by a leadoff home run from Logan Forsythe in the ninth, just his fifth of the season. But Holland recovered to strike out Joc Pederson and Curtis Granderson, then got Chris Taylor to ground out to end the game.
Despite the loss, the Dodgers saw their magic number to clinch the National League West shrink to 11 thanks to the Diamondbacks allowing six runs in the ninth inning to lose 8-7 to the Padres in Phoenix.
“We got a good scoreboard tonight,” said Roberts, who admitted to scoreboard watching during the game.
The Dodgers’ division lead remains 10 games, now with 20 left to play.
The Dodgers try to avoid their first-ever winless homestand of at least six games on Sunday, with Rich Hill on the mound against Tyler Chatwood in what is essentially a bullpen game for Colorado. Almost like the first three games of the series were for the Dodgers.
Home runs: Andre Ethier (1), Logan Forsythe (5); Trevor Story (20)
WP - Chad Bettis (1-2): 5 IP, 6 hits, 4 runs (3 earned), 5 strikeouts
LP - Alex Wood (14-3): 5 IP, 8 hits, 5 runs, 3 walks, 2 strikeouts
Sv - Greg Holland (39): 1 IP, 1 hit, 1 run, 2 strikeouts