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Dodgers offense needs to render the pitching decisions moot

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LA has yet to win a game in which they didn’t score

Division Series - San Francisco Giants v Los Angeles Dodgers - Game Three Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images

Most of the talk surrounding Game 4 of the National League Division Series will be about the pitching decisions the Dodgers make with their season on the brink of elimination. But it’s time for the Dodgers offense to do the heavy lifting and keep them alive.

The Dodgers have been shut out twice by the Giants in three games, finding themselves having to win two games in a row to keep their season going. Being blanked twice in a best-of-five series is not conducive to success, which seems obvious, but here are the receipts.

Eight times before this year have teams been shut out twice in a best-of-five series — twice in the League Championship Series before that series switched to seven games in 1985, and six times in the Division Series. All eight teams lost those series. The Dodgers aren’t the only ones in that predicament this year. The Brewers are similarly down 2-1 to the Braves entering Tuesday, with a pair of shutout losses.

The Dodgers offense will in fact have to score to win. I looked this up, and no team has ever won a game with zero runs. But the Dodgers will very likely need more than that, which has occasionally been a problem. For what it’s worth, manager Dave Roberts thought the at-bats in Game 3 were better than in Game 1, after which he said the team failed to make adjustments. On Monday, the Dodgers hit into outs on balls that had expected batting averages of .920, .890, .870, .550, and .500 (twice).

“The Mookie at-bat — the line-out — the two balls that I thought were home runs. I thought we took some good at-bats and we just didn’t get rewarded,” Roberts said after Game 3. “Collectively, I thought we did a nice job tonight. Better than the goose eggs we’ve gone through.”

What can be frustrating is that, sandwiched in between the two zeroes in the NLDS, the Dodgers scored nine runs in Game 2. Such feast or famine feels like it’s too common for a team that led the National League in runs scored. But is it actually true?

During the regular season, the Dodgers were shut out five times. That’s tied for the second-fewest games in MLB, behind only the Blue Jays (three times).

Held to one or fewer runs? 19 times, second-fewest in MLB, behind only the Astros (18).

Two or fewer runs scored? 41 times, tied for fifth-fewest, with among others, the Giants.

Scoring no more than three? 61 times, fifth-fewest.

Four or fewer runs scored? 76 times, third-fewest.

The point is the Dodgers offense doesn’t really get held down as often as we might think it does. Perhaps it’s more annoying because of the last three times they’ve played the Giants:

  • July 27-29: Dodgers scored nine runs, the Giants seven, but San Francisco won the series 2-1
  • Sept. 3-5: Dodgers 12, Giants 10 in runs; San Francisco 2-1 in games
  • NLDS Games 1-3: Dodgers 9, Giants 7; San Francisco leads the series 2-1

For the Dodgers to keep playing, they need to score. Perhaps they should score five or more times in Game 4. They were 74-12 (.860) when they did that during the regular season, and they scored at least five runs in three of the six games in which Anthony DeSclafani started against them.

NLDS Game 4 info

Teams: Dodgers vs. Giants

Series: San Francisco leads, 2-1

Location: Dodger Stadium, Los Angeles

Time: 6:07 p.m.

TV: TBS