Watching the Los Angeles Dodgers get swept by the last place Colorado Rockies over the last weekend and lose a heartbreaking 12 inning game to San Francisco on Monday was frustrating to say the least. Yet a franchise record third consecutive National League West division title certainly turned that aggravation into jubilation.
While injuries to key players certainly should raise concern heading into the National League Division Series next week, the lack of so-called momentum is not a quantifiable factor in the success of this Dodgers team in the postseason.
Of course the Dodgers want to be playing good baseball going into the playoffs, and the series in Denver and the series opener at AT&T Park was anything but as the Dodgers struggled with inconsistent offense, a besieged starting pitching trio in Colorado and less than stellar defense at times (although there was a few highlight reel worthy plays by Joc Pederson and Chris Heisey in the outfield during the series versus the Rockies). However, Clayton Kershaw’s gem in the clinching game, as well as Brett Anderson’s bounce-back game on Thursday continue to give hope that this team should be fine.
Momentum is so unpredictable, and it can vary not only on a day-to-day basis, but also inning-by-inning or even pitch-to-pitch. Chris Heisey’s grand slam in last Thursday’s game versus the Arizona Diamondbacks was a perfect example of momentum shift off one swing of the bat.
Last season, the Kansas City Royals were not exactly red hot going into the postseason. They were playing at a .500 pace down the stretch and went 10-10 going into the American League Wild Card game versus the Oakland Athletics, which in turn spurred a run that rallied them all the way to Game 7 of the World Series.
I also have to mention the admittedly incredible postseason surge by the rival San Francisco Giants who were beat up by the Royals during an August slump before eventually overcoming Kansas City in October for the final prize.
In 2006, the St. Louis Cardinals lost 17 of their final 29 games of the regular season before going on to win the World Series. Let’s not forget the 1917 White Sox, who like the 2015 Dodgers, were no-hit twice in one season but went on to win the World Series.
Mike Petriello of Dodgers Digest wrote about momentum and what it is, or isn’t:
I’m just saying that since ‘momentum’ is a pretty invented thing, you can define it how you want. Some will think that they’ve already ‘lost momentum’ no matter what happens. Others will think the team is ‘red-hot’ if they do well this upcoming week. Yet others are quietly thrilled because they’d be happier seeing a clinch party in San Francisco rather than Denver.”
Even after the disastrous sweep at Coors Field (it is always a nightmare to play there) and the grueling loss to the Giants Monday, the team is still set to head into the postseason with the same guarantee to win the World Series than before the four consecutive losses. There is no guarantee.
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