If the Los Angeles Dodgers hadn’t yet hit rock bottom this season, they likely did after getting swept by the Houston Astros, which came on the heels of being swept by the Oakland Athletics in a quick two-game series.
Their three losses to Astros were more confounding when taking into account both Zack Greinke and Clayton Kershaw started in the series. After striking out 10 and allowing just one run in eight innings only for Kenley Jansen to blow a save and the Dodgers to lose in the 10th, Kershaw called for panic and a sense of urgency from his teammates.
Whether his words or facing the Cincinnati Reds carried more weight can be debated, but the Dodgers responded by sweeping the three games at Great American Ball Park. According to Ken Gurnick of MLB, manager Don Mattingly didn’t have issue with Kershaw’s words:
I think Kersh is one of our leaders. When he speaks, guys tend to listen to him for the respect they have for him, the way he goes about his business and the way he backs it up on the field. You would hope you have a number of guys that feel the same way, not just Kersh. When you get in tough situations, they’re the guys that do things right. Obviously, Kersh is a huge voice.
Jimmy Rollins also explained Kershaw’s urging as one being necessary when a team has hit a lull, according to ESPN’s Mark Saxon:
It’s almost like cruise control a little bit at times,” Rollins said. “It isn’t because of lack of effort. Every team goes through that and it’s just the way it is. When you recognize it, it’s time to say, ‘All right guys, step it up and get back on the grind.’ The marathon part is over. It’s a sprint now and everyone’s jockeying for position. We’re up top and everyone’s gunning for that one spot. There’s really only one spot.
The Dodgers now return home for a pivotal six-game homestand comprised of three-game series with the Chicago Cubs and San Francisco Giants. The Dodgers enter play Friday with a 2.5-game lead over the Giants in the National League West, but trail the Cubs by three games for the second Wild Card spot.