“We needed it.” Those were the words of Dave Roberts after the Dodgers beat the Giants 5-3 last night to end their 11-game losing streak. And no truer words have ever been spoken.
I’m not sure who needed it more – Dodger players or Dodger fans. I’m going to go with the fans, because on some level, the players have to believe they can turn it around. The fans, on the other hand, seemed to have lost that faith a couple of weeks ago. Forget winning a World Series, Dodger fans were worried they weren’t going to win another game.
And it’s not like they didn’t make it interesting last night. Closer Kenley Jansen entered in the eighth with a 5-3 lead to get the final out. Then came back out for the ninth and struck out the first batter he faced. Then allowed a single, a stolen base, a single, and another single, and suddenly, the bases were loaded with just one out. UH-OH!
A 12th straight loss was staring them right in the eyes. And the way things had been going, that was bound to happen, right? Something fluky would happen. Like a grounder gets kicked and three runs score. Or Buster Posey just goes deep for a game-winning walk off grand slam.
But no, Jansen dug deep and struck out Posey. And then struck out Nick Hundley. Ball game over. Streak over. Thanks for coming.
The Dodgers win! The Dodgers win! The Dodgers win!
Let’s be real. If they had found a way to lose that game, to blow a 2-run lead in the ninth with Jansen on the mound, after a Clayton Kershaw start, they might not have won another game. That would’ve been an absolute spear through the chest. But they held it together and got it done.
As Kershaw said after the game: “Nothing about these past two weeks has been easy. So we shouldn’t have expected this one to be easy.”
Truth. And here’s another truth: they had to have that one. Not just because they needed to end the streak, but because it would’ve been brutal to waste another Kershaw start without snapping that streak.
And it looked like that might happen in the third inning when the Dodgers fell behind after Kershaw gave up a home run to Giants shortstop Kelby Tomlinson, who’s not exactly a home run hitter. How little of a home run hitter is he? It was his first bomb in nearly two years. And that’s kind of how it had been going for the Dodgers over this streak. Anything that could go wrong, did go wrong.
But they battled back in the fourth thanks to a Chase Utley homer, a Kershaw double, a sacrifice fly, and a two-run double from Yasiel Puig. That’s what they needed last night, everyone doing everything they could.
And even weirder than winning a game was that they clinched a playoff spot in the process. How weird was that, Dave Roberts didn’t even know it until a reporter told him. “We’re in the postseason? Really? That’s great.”
No shock that the news didn’t trigger a champagne party in the clubhouse. No booze just relief. Not over reaching the postseason, but over winning a game.