Fun is suddenly a bit hard to come by for the Dodgers, who have gone from world beaters to just another team in a seeming heartbeat.
They were completely wiped out, 19-3, by the Giants on Saturday night, leaving their magic number stuck at four and with just three victories in their last 10 games.
The 19 runs is the most scored by any team in the 51-year history of Dodger Stadium. And 53,0962 can say they were there.
The Dodgers still own an 11½ game lead in the National League West with 14 games left in the regular season, so it’s hardly like anyone is searching for the panic button.
Still, the Dodgers ideally would like to enter the postseason under a bit of steam, not limping in with bodies falling left and right.
They played Saturday without Hanley Ramirez (back), Andre Ethier (foot) and Matt Kemp (hamstring), and then outfielders Carl Crawford left in the third – manager’s decision? It was already 8-1 – and Yasiel Puig (landed hard diving for a ball and then was hit by a pitch) left after five innings.
The defending champion Giants showed some winners’ pride, refusing to allow the Dodgers to clinch in front of them in Dodger Stadium.
The Giants got seven RBIs from Hunter Pence (including four on a grand slam) and five hits and six RBIs from Brandon Belt, and just generally pounded right-hander Ricky Nolasco so hard he couldn’t get out of the second inning.
After Sunday’s homestand finale, the Dodgers head to Arizona for four games, where they may yet wrap up the division. If the Diamondbacks take at least three games, then the Dodgers will have to take care of business in a three-game series in San Diego.
Meanwhile, they have another pressing issue. Once their next clear mission was to supplant the Braves and finish with the best record in the National League, securing home-field advantage through the N.L. playoffs.
Playing games like Saturday’s won’t exactly help the cause. By the time Nolasco left the game one out into the second inning, they were already down 7-1. Which it turned out, was mere prelude.
Nolasco (13-10) had allowed only five earned runs total in his last five starts, but surrendered that many before he could get his fifth out. Nolasco had won his last seven consecutive decisions, but never could get it going against the Giants.
Nolasco had gone at least five innings in each of his 30 starts this season, but in his 1 1/3 innings Saturday allowed seven runs (five earned) on seven hits and three walks. He wasn’t helped along by two errors and some shaky defense by Puig, but at no time did he appear sharp.
By the fifth inning, the lineups looked like something out of a spring training game. The Dodgers used 21 players.