Manager believes recent slump is something that occurs over course of a season
By Mike Bauman
ST. LOUIS -- Dodgers manager Don Mattingly staunchly defended his team's offense Sunday, after another day in which that offense didn't produce enough to win.
The Dodgers, who had ended a franchise-record 42-inning road scoreless streak in a victory Saturday night, lost to the Cardinals, 3-1, on Sunday. The Dodgers managed only one hit in seven innings off St. Louis starter Carlos Martinez, and two overall.
"I'm OK with my club," Mattingly said in response to a question about the quality of the Dodgers' at-bats. In replying to a question about the state of the offense, he said:
"Obviously, we want to score five, six, seven, eight runs a game, but it's not going to happen over the course of a whole season. I'm happy with our club, I'm happy with our offense, what it's going to be, what it can be."
Asked to explain the performance of the offense over the last two weeks, Mattingly said: "It's just part of the game. We were pretty good at home. You can't put what happened 10 days ago into a pile with what happens now. There's games in there we scored, there's games in there we haven't."
To a question about whether his club might not be able to hit the better pitching staffs, Mattingly again stated:
"I'm not worried about our club."
Over the last 14 games, the Dodgers have scored 31 runs. The low point of that stretch came with the three straight shutouts in San Francisco on May 19-21. But following that series, the Dodgers did go 4-2 on a homestand before losing two out of three to the Cardinals.
Losses to the Cardinals are particularly irritating because the Cards knocked the Dodgers out of the postseason the last two Octobers. On Sunday, infielder Justin Turner was called out on strikes to end the game against St. Louis closer Trevor Rosenthal. Turner was convinced that two called strikes against him were off the plate.
"When you have a good pitching staff and they don't have to throw strikes, it makes them a lot better," Turner said.
Losing two out of three to the Cardinals might be irksome for the Dodgers, but it is probably not a sign of impending doom. The Cardinals have the best record in the Major Leagues (33-17). They are practically untouchable at Busch Stadium, where they have the best home record in the Majors (20-6).
While the focus has been on the Redbirds eliminating the Dodgers in two consecutive postseasons, in the regular season, the Dodgers have won the season series with the Cardinals for four straight years.
This is a dramatically different Dodgers team than the ones that lost those two postseason series to St. Louis. But different does not automatically translate into worse.
"Good club, good club," Cardinals manager Mike Matheny said of the 2015 Dodgers. "They have some different names in there, but they replace some big names with some other big names. And there's some potential damage with everybody that they bring in their lineup, whether it's guys they develop in the Minor League system, or with their pitching, they just bring one arm after another. And then they're able to go get some people, too.
"It's a franchise that takes a lot of pride, like we do, in putting a good product out there. I don't think they're disappointing anybody."
Even with the recent downturn in offense, the Dodgers came into Sunday ranked fourth in the National League in runs scored, first in home runs, on-base percentage and slugging percentage. They've been without Yasiel Puig, who has missed 32 games with a left hamstring injury.
The bottom line for the Dodgers was that they ended May in first place in the NL West. It was just by percentage points over the Giants, but still in first.
They'll have four more chances to climb Mt. Cardinal next weekend at home. Clayton Kershaw and Zack Greinke, who did not pitch in this series, are scheduled to pitch in that one. With these two pitching staffs, runs will probably be at a premium again. The Dodgers' offense won't have to explode, but it might have to expand beyond its recent level.
Mike Bauman is a national columnist for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.