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Sixteen Years of 0-6
2004-10-04 16:59
by Jon Weisman

Believe it or not, I've been waiting for the opportunity to address the ugly post-1988 playoff history of the Dodgers. Because it means they have a chance to do something about it.

And something must be done.

1995, Game 1: Reds 7, Dodgers 2

In their first playoff inning following their 1988 World Series triumph, the Dodgers allowed four runs. A decade later, they're still trying to recover.

The Dodgers had a 78-66 record in 1995 compared to Cincinnati's 85-59, but hosted the first two games before traveling to Cincinnati for the remaining three, however many would be necessary.

It turned out to be a short trip.

Ramon Martinez, who was 17-7 with a 3.66 ERA in 1995, allowed a two-out, two-run double to Hal Morris, followed by a home run by Benito Santiago, putting the Dodgers in a 4-0 hole in the first inning.

Pete Schourek held the Dodgers to two singles over the first four innings. Then in the fifth, Martinez gave up a single and two doubles and got the hook. John Cummings, sort of the Mike Venafro of his day (only he pitched more innings), came in and gave up the Reds' fifth double, making the score 7-0.

The Dodgers put single runs on the board in the bottom of the fifth and sixth, the latter on a homer by Mike Piazza. But the game was no contest.

Worth noting is the crowd for the first Dodger playoff game in seven years: 44,199 - far below Dodger Stadium capacity.

1995, Game 2: Reds 5, Dodgers 4

This one was closer. Los Angeles took a 1-0 lead in the first inning when Eric Karros doubled in Brett Butler, fell behind when a costly Chad Fonville error led to two unearned runs on a Reggie Sanders home run off Ismael Valdes, then tied the game at 2-2 on a Karros home run.

Valdes was brilliant, allowing three hits, a walk and no earned runs over seven innings. Antonio Osuna replaced him to start the eighth inning (as part of a double switch that came following Raul Mondesi's ejection for arguing with umpire Bob Davidson) and gave up a go-ahead RBI single by Barry Larkin.

In the ninth, the Reds scored two insurance runs on one hit, three walks and three stolen bases. It was an Allstate moment, because the Dodgers rallied for two with one out in the bottom of the ninth on Karros' second homer. However, Tim Wallach popped out and Delino DeShields flied out to end the game.

It was a game the Dodgers had to have, should have had, and didn't get.

1995, Game 3: Reds 10, Dodgers 1

A grim task - winning three games in a row in Cincinnati - turned out to be even more hopeless than imagined.

Fonville was thrown out at home trying to score on a Piazza double in the top of the third. In the bottom of that inning, Ron Gant hit a two-run home run.

The Dodgers got an unearned run in the fourth, but Bret Boone negated it with a home run.

Then in the sixth, Mark Lewis, who had three home runs in 1995 and 48 in his career, hit a grand slam off Mark Guthrie, who had relieved Hideo Nomo. Even more improbably, in the seventh, Reds reliever Mike Jackson got the sixth and last hit of his major-league career with a three-run double off Cummings.

The Dodgers were annihilated.

1996, Game 1: Braves 2, Dodgers 1 (10)

By losing their final four games of the season and falling from the NL West lead into the wild card, the 90-72 Dodgers lost a date with 88-74 St. Louis and fell into a contest with 96-66 Atlanta, which had John Smoltz, Greg Maddux and Tom Glavine all with ERAs below 3.00.

As in 1995, Martinez started Game 1 at home for the Dodgers - but did much better, allowing only one run on three hits and three walks over eight innings. Predictably, however, Smoltz allowed only one run over nine innings, a game-tying RBI-double by Greg Gagne in the fifth.

Antonio Osuna, a decent reliever building up something of an awful playoff history, allowed a leadoff home run by Javier Lopez in the top of the 10th inning. Mark Wohlers closed the door on the Dodgers, and Atlanta had the series opener.

By this time, suspicion that the Dodgers could not win a playoff game to save their lives was flowering.

1996, Game 2: Braves 3, Dodgers 2

As in 1995, the Dodgers pushed across a first-inning run (unearned) in the second game of the series, on an RBI-groundout by Piazza. Ryan Klesko homered off Valdes in the next inning to tie the score, but a second error allowed Mondesi to double home Piazza in the fourth inning to put Los Angeles ahead, 2-1.

The next Dodger heartbreak came in the seventh. Valdes, who by this time had pitched 13 innings in his playoff career and allowed only one earned run, gave up one-out, back-to-back homers to Fred McGriff and Jermaine Dye. Meanwhile, Maddux, Greg McMichael and Wohlers pitched perfect ball over the final five innings.

In two days, the Dodgers had allowed five runs - and trailed in the series, 2-0.

1996, Game 3: Braves 5, Dodgers 2

Relatively speaking, a rout. Once again in a Game 3, a Dodger (Todd Hollandsworth) was thrown out at home trying to score on a Piazza hit. Once again in a Game 3, Nomo needed to be perfect, and was anything but.

After allowing McGriff to double home a run in the first inning, Nomo gave up a two-run double to Mark Lemke and a two-run homer to Chipper Jones in the fourth.

Single runs in the seventh and eighth innings made the score more respectable, but once more, the Dodgers endured a humiliating series sweep.

That was eight years ago. Eight years since the last playoff game, 16 since the last playoff victory. The Dodgers have lost big and lost small. It's an ugly record, and Dodger fans are desperate to see it change.

Source: Retrosheet

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