The Dodgers took the field for the next to last time on Tuesday night in a game against the Rockies, with really not a lot to play for beyond individual accomplishments. Chief among them Julio Urías gunning for the ERA crown, and Freddie Freeman’s battle with Jeff McNeil for the National League batting title in the NL.
Urías once again showed tremendous consistency, but the final result was an uneventful 5-2 loss to the Rockies, LA’s third straight defeat.
The Dodgers’ Cy Young candidate took the ball for his last start before the playoffs, and with the announcement that he was going to make a somewhat abbreviated start due to the nature of the game, the goal was simply to keep him fresh and healthy for hopefully a long postseason run.
There are certain things one comes to expect in a baseball game. One of the things you learn while watching a 110-win team day in, and night out, is that it is very easy to accustom yourself to greatness. It takes a conscious effort to not accept certain things for granted, stuff that other fan bases would kill to see, even in rarity, and may go by without the necessary recognition around these parts.
Perhaps the single biggest example of outstanding achievement, somewhat taken for granted with the Dodgers in 2022, has been the remarkable performance of Urías. The Dodgers’ left-hander began the year with a very poor outing in Coors Field allowing six runs, but that was the exception to the rule.
A full season of starts later, Urías finished the year against these very same Rockies, with his 14th consecutive outing allowing two or fewer runs, and going at least five full frames. You know what they say, six is the new seven, and five is the new six.
Urías didn’t have his best fastball going and saw Brendan Rodgers turned on a high heater that usually generates swings and misses, depositing it in the left field seats for the opening run of the ball game in the first, The same went for Sean Bouchard, who also hit a solo bomb on a heater in the third inning.
However, the Dodgers’ ace bared down with the help of his curve to retire the last eight Rockies hitters, with an error sprinkled in there. Urías left trailing but ultimately spit the hook as Joey Gallo tied the game with a solo bomb in the bottom of the sixth inning, pinch-hitting for Mookie Betts
Slumping offense is the new narrative
No matter what happens at the end of the season, there is a script to be thrown out during the postseason. Last year, it was the insane schedule from fighting for the division down to the last day to a draining wild card game, to a five-game series against the Giants, and it all became too much by the time the NLCS rolled around.
How much of that was a factor, who knows? This doesn’t dismiss the toll that those extra meaningful games took, but it’s a narrative set to throw out there once defeat hits.
For this year, the offense enters the playoffs in a bit of a skid, and for now, everyone can chalk it up to a justifiable slump having been qualified for the top seed, and all that you probably know, but if a postseason exit comes, and usually those come with some form of an offensive letdown, you can bet everyone is coming back to this slump coming into the playoffs.
Scoring four runs over a three-game span against the Colorado Rockies pitching staff is not ideal, but not ending the season hot won’t be the reason this team may or may not falter. You’ve just got to maintain some perspective, and understand what this team did, and how the postseason in baseball works.
On Tuesday, Dave Roberts had Gallo and Hanser Alberto taking over for Betts and Trea Turner, getting regulars some rest, so adjust your feeling on the slump accordingly.
Andrew Heaney getting lined up for a multi-inning relief role
After Urías tossed five frames, Roberts had Heaney coming on in relief, and he pitched four innings of the purest Heaney fashion you can have. The strikeout rate leader on the team got seven punchouts but got hit by the long-ball, as Randal Grichuk took him deep for a go-ahead two-run shot in the seventh inning.
There is no question Heaney can be a filthy weapon out of the ‘pen, but the success of his postseason run is likely to be decided by if his inevitable home runs allowed will be solo shots or three-run bombs? The latter can keep him in the plus column as far as being a productive weapon.
Home runs: Joey Gallo (19); Brendan Rodgers (13), Sam Bouchard (3), Randall Grichuk (19)
WP — Ryan Feltner (4-9) 6 IP, 4 hits, 2 runs, 2 walks, 4 strikeouts
LP — Andrew Heaney (4-4): 4 IP, 5 hits, 3 runs, 7 strikeouts
Sv — Daniel Bard (34): 3 up, 3 down
The regular season finale is a day game Wednesday (1:20 p.m., SportsNet LA), with Clayton Kershaw starting for the Dodgers.