An Unmitigated Disaster

Braves lead series 3-1.

Jim Rome
October 16, 2020 - 9:48 am
Clayton Kershaw

USA Today

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After the beating LA put on Atlanta in Game 3, the absurd 15-3 beating, there were a lot of Dodger fans who were feeling pretty good about themselves. A little too good. Because as well as Game 3 went, Game 4 was AN UNMITIGATED CATASTROPHE.

And it was the same DISASTER  that Dodger fans have been having for years now. Clayton Kershaw pitches pretty well, is left in a little too long, the bullpen can’t hold a lead and the bats go silent when it matters most. Wash, rinse, repeat. You can set your watch to it. And that is exactly what happened last night.

After beating the ever-living crap out of Atlanta’s Kyle Wright in Game 3, the Dodgers faced Bryse Wilson. If you’re not familiar with Bryse Wilson, you shouldn’t be. He had pitched less than 43 innings in his major league career and hadn’t pitched since September 27th. And yet Bryse Wilson looked like Cy Freaking Young last night.

The Dodgers managed one hit against him. One. A home run from Edwin Rios. That’s it. Six innings, he gave up one hit and struck out five.

So while Kershaw takes the loss for the game and deserves some of the blame for the sixth inning, he would’ve had to be have been perfect to leave the game with a lead. The Dodgers go from putting up 15 runs in three innings to getting one hit in the first six and a total of three hits for the game.

Atlanta, on the other hand, was having that proverbial brawl at the bat rack. I mean….. To the question of whether Ronald Acuna Jr and Marcell Ozuna would wake up, the answer was most definitely yes.

Acuna went 2 for 4 with two runs scored and Ozuna went legend. The big man hit into a double play in his first at bat. And then all he did after that was cause damage. Extreme damage: Home run. 

That tied the game at 1. And I’m not sure what was more electric: Ozuna’s home run, Ozuna’s trip around the bases, or Acuna’s celebratory leap. He looked like MJ in his prime on that jump. Dude has to have like a 90 inch vert, right?

And then came the sixth inning. And that is the one that is going to be burned in the memories of Dodger fans for years to come. Because there have been a lot of innings like this over the last few postseasons. Kershaw had been pitching well to that point. He’d given up one run and only throw 71 pitches in the first five innings. He’d set down the last five hitters he faced.

But Acuna reached on a slow grounder and went to second on an error. And Dodger fans had to know what was coming next.

And it started with Freddie Freeman a double to right. 

2-1 Atlanta, but the nightmare was just starting. And you knew how it was going to end: with Kershaw walking off the mound a little too late, the bullpen making it worse, and the bats not picking them up. And that is exactly how it went.  Because that’s exactly how it always goes with these guys.

Let’s go to the tape! After the Freeman double, Ozuna stepped in, preparing to get his third look at Kershaw. Double. 

Now its 3-1 Atlanta and Dave Roberts comes to get Clayton Kershaw. I know a lot of you are going to want to hang all of this on Kershaw, but before you do, check yourself a bit. Quick – what’s Kershaw’s ERA in his last five postseason starts, including last night? 7? 9.5? 40? No, it’s 3.94.

Not nearly as good as he is in the regular season, but not the complete disaster that everyone makes him out to be. In fact, there are a ton of starting pitchers who would happily sign up for a postseason ERA of 3.94, it’s just that Kershaw is so much better in the regular season.

And again, while he was in the game, the Dodgers bats managed exactly one hit. Even if he pitched like regular season Kershaw, he wasn’t winning that game. So while he has to wear some of it, there was plenty of blame to go around.

Should he have been yanked from the game earlier? Was it a mistake to let Ozuna see him for a third time, especially after how the second time went? Okay. Well, check what the bullpen did after Kershaw left. You can kill Dave Roberts for not going to his bullpen sooner.  But given the arsonists that were posted up there, can you blame him?  Did you see what happened when he ultimately did turn it over to those gascans????

Brusdar Graterol replaced Kershaw. B.G. entered the game having not allowed an inherited runner to score in the postseason to letting everyone score. He got a lineout from his first batter, then gave up a single. Then an RBI double, followed by an RBI single, and then left the game. He threw 15 pitches and gave up 3 runs, plus the one he inherited from Kershaw. So you’re starting to see why would have rather let Kershaw try and work out of it then let his bullpen set the entire stadium on fire.

It was 6-1 by the time Graterol left the game and it didn’t end there. Victor Gonzalez came in, issued a walk, then an RBI single to make it 7-1 and then finally got two outs.

Just a total and complete disaster. As before, if the bullpen had been able to keep it to 3-1, the Dodgers weren’t out of that game. Keep it a two or three run game and you keep the pressure on Atlanta, you force them into tough decisions and make them use up their important arms in the bullpen.

But instead, this crew took a bad situation and made it so much worse. And took all the pressure of Atlanta. You use water to put out a fire not gasoline. 

Remember all the talk about how deep and how good this bullpen is? Remember when their only concern was Kenley Jansen? They’ve given up 15 runs in 15 2/3s innings in this series. That’s not bullpen, that’s just batting practice.

And if Dodger pitchers were looking for the Dodger hitters to bail them out, they were begging. Mookie Betts: 0 for 4. Corey Seager: 0 for 4. Cody Bellinger: 0 for 3.

That is a lineup loaded with All-Stars and an MVP candidates and they couldn’t even scratch out a hit. And it’s not like that’s one bad night either.  They were crap offensively in games one and two. 

Bellinger is hitting .188 for the series. Betts is even worse at .143. The offense that was unstoppable in the regular season has been unstartable in this series. Take out the last three innings of Game 2’s loss and the first three of Game 3’s win and these guys have been absolutely awful. Take out those six innings and they’ve scored a total of three runs in 30 innings. Three runs. Total.

Meanwhile, Marcell Ozuna continued to square up absolutely everything that came his way.

And he was still pounding in the 8th hitting a single.  

That made it 10-2 and capped off the complete and total humiliation for the Dodgers. Winning a playoff game 15-3 is impressive. Losing 10-2 just 24 hours later is amazing. And now they are in a 3-1 hole, staring at the end of the season, and a hell of a lot of criticism.  They’ve gone into tank before, but never like this. Because it was only about five minutes ago that we weren’t asking will they win it all, but rather will they go down as the best dodgers team ever when they do.  and not they’re a loss away from the question: is this the biggest implosion and disappointment ever for this franchise. And if they show up anything like they did last night in Game 5, that’s a resounding yes.  because right now, this is an absolute castastrophe for them.