After a successful trip to Atlanta last weekend, Dodgers manager Dave Roberts had hoped his team could keep the party going against the Colorado Rockies on Monday night.
Instead, the Dodgers suffered one of their lackluster performances of the season in a 4-0 loss at Coors Field, getting shut out by Rockies starter Chad Kuhl in what looked like the baseball’s equivalent of a hangover from the long night and series, before.
“We didn’t really deserve to win this game offensively,” said shortstop Trea Turner. “Our pitchers did a really good job giving us a late chance. But offensively, we were pretty bad. It happens.”
The Dodgers (45-27) had started their current nine-game road trip with two successful saves. They swept three games against the Cincinnati Reds last week. Then they took two of three against the Braves over the weekend, winning an 11-inning, nearly 4.5-hour marathon on Sunday night.
This game, however, delayed the team’s arrival in Denver for a three-game set with the Rockies (32-42). They didn’t land until around 3 a.m. Monday. The Dodgers skipped batting practice later in the afternoon to give their players extra rest.
“I think you could probably see everybody’s hanging around a bit,” second baseman Gavin Lux said.
“It’s not ideal,” Roberts added. “But you still have to go out there and play.”
From the start, the Dodgers seemed low on energy and lacking in execution.
Their lineup battled Kuhl, who became the first pitcher to throw a complete shutout against the Dodgers since Steve Wright of the Boston Red Sox in 2016.
Relying mostly on a lead-cursor combination, the right-hander faced the minimum number of batters in six innings, allowed just three total hits and went it all on just 102 pitches.
“We just didn’t make any adjustments,” Roberts said. “I felt we had a really good game plan. We just didn’t execute it [the] first two times.
Dodgers starter, former Rockies left-hander Tyler Anderson (8-1), gave up runs in the first two innings before allowing a two-run homer to Jose Iglesias in the sixth, raising his ERA to 3.23 this season.
“Usually when you come to this stadium, you feel like a starter goes six innings, gives up four runs, you still have a chance to win,” Roberts said.
Instead, the Dodgers stayed so far adrift, not even a missed manager’s challenge in the second inning or a base-running error in the fourth, when Lux doubled down trying to get through to the second on a fly ball, which played a big part in the final result.
“At the end of the day,” Lux said, “we have to find a way to compete a little bit better probably.”
The struggles at home plate were the most egregious for a Dodgers team that still misses Mookie Betts — who Roberts says is feeling better after a broken rib but still hasn’t returned to baseball activity — and struggled for much of June, a three-game blast against the Reds’ porous pitching staff.
Since the start of the Braves series, the team has scored just nine runs in its last 36 regulation innings.
Max Muncy, Justin Turner and Cody Bellinger are still at bat every day, despite all posting numbers below league average.
And on nights when the top of the order doesn’t deliver — on Monday, the front three of Trea Turner, Freddie Freeman and Will Smith combined to make one for 11 — the whole lineup tends to look lost.
Roberts doesn’t believe the Dodgers are cooling off, insisting their approach in Atlanta was better than some of the suggested outcomes. He noted that the Braves have one of the best pitching teams in the majors. His explanations for Monday’s flop were less convincing.
He paid tribute to Kuhl (5-5), a six-year veteran with a career 4.38 ERA.
He explained the travel difficulties but said they were no excuse.
“Tonight was probably one of those nights that we would love to see again,” he said.
All Star Invite
Although the Dodgers didn’t win the National League pennant last year, Roberts will be in the home dugout next month when the All-Star Game takes place at Dodger Stadium, accepting an offer from the Braves manager, Brian Snitker to join the NL coaching staff for the Midsummer Classic.
“It’s a huge honour,” said Roberts, who has already managed the NL team three times in his career. “The first in Los Angeles for many years and decades. So to kind of represent the Dodgers, to be part of their team, that’s great.
Freeman received NL Player of the Week honors after batting .440 with two homers and 11 RBIs in six games last week, capping a thrilling comeback in Atlanta over the weekend.
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