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2004-09-07 15:40
by Jon Weisman

Honestly, I've got as many ash-colored glasses as rose-colored, but I'm really having trouble looking back at the recent Dodger road trip with as much doom and gloom as so many are.

Of the six victories, four were by four runs or more - solid. A fifth was a three-run extra-inning victory in a game Randy Johnson started. The closest margin was two runs - a vintage win by the Dodger bullpen over the Met bullpen.
Now, the losses:

Bookending the road trip, two losses came after stirring comebacks - from down six to the Expos, from down three in the ninth to the Cardinals. No points for moral victories, I suppose - but you also don't get more points for scoring early than for scoring late. They were two razor-thin losses.

There was a rout at the hands of the Mets, and a fairly decisive loss to the Expos when Montreal scored three in the sixth inning.

There was a close defeat in Hideo Nomo's return from the disabled list.

And there were two other losses to the Harlem Globe- I mean the St. Louis Cardinals. Rare defensive miscues and a slumbering offense played a role in both games.

In sum, the Dodgers went 5-4 in games decided by three runs or more, 1-3 in games decided by two runs or less. They lost only one series - to the top team in baseball. All this on the road.

A discouraging road trip would have been one where the Dodgers were beaten soundly - where they eked out victories and got crushed in their losses. This was the opposite. The Dodgers truly earned their victories and caught few breaks in the close ones.

In closing, let me pass along a simple hunch. When the Dodgers got to St. Louis, not only did they run into a great team, they also ran out of gas. Hot weather at the end of a 13-game road trip is not the setting for a great offensive show. I mean, have you been to St. Louis in the summer?

The team has a .542 OPS through five games in September. Seems reasonable to expect that figure to improve.

So once again, I decline to ascribe dire warnings to the recent Dodger performance. They didn't excel - they struggled, even. They bent. But they didn't break.

Whether or not they will snap out of it tonight, with the shaky Nomo going against Arizona's Brandon Webb, I don't know. But as the homestand progresses, if this team can go 6-7 on its longest road trip of the season, I'm willing to be sanguine about how it will do at home.

Tonight's Game

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