In a distressingly familiar turn of events, the Los Angeles Dodgers found themselves facing a dire situation in the National League Division Series, trailing 0-2 against the Arizona Diamondbacks. This unexpected predicament unfolded due to the Dodgers’ starting pitchers faltering and their offense squandering vital opportunities to recover. The team, which boasted an impressive 100-win record during the regular season, was left grappling with a potential early elimination, a prospect nobody had anticipated.
Veteran Clayton Kershaw and rookie Bobby Miller, vital cogs in the Dodgers’ pitching machine, had disappointing outings. Kershaw allowed six runs in a mere inning, while Miller struggled, managing to throw only 28 of his 52 pitches for strikes before getting pulled. Despite their bullpen’s efforts to keep the game within reach, the Dodgers’ usually formidable offense struggled against the Diamondbacks’ starters, a situation that seemed unthinkable considering the Dodgers’ dominance in the regular season matchups.
Arizona’s star pitchers, Merrill Kelly and Zac Gallen, who had struggled against the Dodgers in the regular season, suddenly found their stride, limiting the Dodgers to a mere two runs in 11⅔ innings in the first two games of the series. The Dodgers’ inability to capitalize on crucial moments was evident, with key players like Mookie Betts and Freddie Freeman, usually reliable MVP candidates, faltering under pressure. The team’s struggles were reflected in their 2-for-12 performance with runners in scoring position and the 13 runners they left stranded in the NLDS.
This series was eerily reminiscent of the Dodgers’ previous postseason disappointments, notably their exit at the hands of the San Diego Padres in the NLDS the previous year. The Diamondbacks, a team the Dodgers had comfortably beaten in their past five regular-season encounters, were now posing a formidable challenge.
Dodgers manager Dave Roberts acknowledged the need for improved pitching and better team at-bats. The team pinned its hopes on veteran Lance Lynn and rookie Ryan Pepiot, who were set to pitch in tandem in the next game, with Kershaw slated for a potential Game 4. The odds were against them; historically, road teams that took a 2-0 lead in a best-of-five series had advanced 90% of the time. However, the Dodgers were determined to defy the statistics, focusing on one game at a time.
Amidst the frustration and disappointment, Betts emphasized the importance of turning the page and focusing on the upcoming game. The Dodgers were aware of their shortcomings, acknowledging the need to regroup, refocus, and fight back. As they prepared for the crucial Game 3, the team remained resolute, refusing to dwell on past failures and committed to giving their all to salvage their postseason dreams.