It started exactly 3 years ago from today, although I don’t remember the game very well. It took place back on June 22nd 2013, and at the time, it was just another game in an already long and disappointing season for the Dodgers. But after winning that game against the San Diego Padres, the Dodgers would go on a historic streak, where they would go 42-8 over their next 50 games. No MLB team had a better record in a 50 game stretch in over 100 years. It was such a significant achievement, I listed as one of the Top 25 Moments in Dodgers History.
Before the Dodgers went on their historic run back in 2013, they were really struggling. Stuck in last place in the N.L West, and 9.5 games back, it was safe to say that no one saw that kind of run coming. It would propel the Dodgers into first place, a spot that they’d keep for the rest of the season.
Fast forward exactly 3 years later, and here we are, on June 22nd 2016, where the Dodgers find themselves in need of a similar run as they had back in 2013. Entering play Wednesday, the Dodgers are in 2nd place in the N.L West, and 5.5 games back of the first place Giants. Similarly to the start of the 2013 season, they haven’t played as well as they would have liked so far. They may not be 9.5 games out and in last place, but they’re still looking up in the standings, and need to make up some ground.
The MLB season is a marathon, not a sprint, and there’s still plenty of time left in the season. With that said, if the Dodgers want to win the division for a 4th straight year, they will need to start playing well on a more consistent basis. Hovering just over .500 for most of the year, it’s time for the Dodgers to turn it up.
Going back to that 2013 season, one could ask what exactly caused that drastic turnaround? Well, probably a multitude of factors. Yasiel Puig had just made his debut earlier that month, and he definitely took the league my storm when he first came up. His presence certainly inserted a jolt into the Dodgers lineup, and shook things up a bit. But he wasn’t single-handedly responsible for the Dodgers improvement.
The Dodgers started playing better in every aspect of the game. They went from hitting as low as .251 in April, to as high as .289 in July. Their ERA dropped from 3.88 in April/May, to 2.52 in July, and then 2.03 in August. They hit better. They pitched better. They simply played much better overall.
Dave Roberts has said he fully expects the Dodgers to make the playoffs this year, going as far as telling a reporter to “tweet it” out. And if the season ended today, Roberts would be correct.
Dave Roberts said he expects the Dodgers to make the playoffs. "Tweet that," he said.
— Andy McCullough (@McCulloughTimes) June 12, 2016
The Dodgers currently sit at 40-33, good enough for the 4th best record in the league, and they would qualify as one of the two Wild Card teams right now. As much as the Dodgers have struggled at times this year, to still be sitting right there, with a post-season berth well within reach, has to be at least a little reassuring.
Of course, no one wants to settle for a Wild Card. Surely, the Dodgers still think they can win the division, and intend to do everything they can to do that. But it won’t be easy. The San Francisco Giants have continued to play good baseball all year, and haven’t hit any real slump yet. The Dodgers will need them to fade a little, but first and foremost, they need to string some wins together.
After their win on Tuesday night, the Dodgers are now on a 5-game winning streak, which is their longest of the season. Hopefully, it’s a start to a nice run for this years’ club, and maybe this is where they turn things around this year, just as they did 3 years ago.
Obviously, a streak like the one the Dodgers had in 2013 shouldn’t be expected by any means. It was a truly remarkable feat, and one that probably won’t happen often, if at all again, regardless of how good a team is. To lose only 8 games out of 50, you have to be good, but also have some luck on your side.
Still, it was a great turnaround for a team that seemed like it had no chance. They really just turned it on out of nowhere, and from that point on, it was like a totally different team playing the rest of the season. It’s almost as if the Dodgers hit some magic switch that day back in June of 2013.
Now, if they can just somehow find where that switch is this year.
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