Dodgers are baseball’s biggest losers with NLDS loss to Padres

They’ve flopped before, countless wonderful summers cruelly fused into fall bags.

But they’ve never screwed up like this before.

You’ve been embarrassed before, many memorable summer marches ruined by staggering October stumbles.

But they have never been so humiliated.

Barely a week after setting a franchise record with 111 regular-season wins, the biggest winners in Dodgers history have taken on an entirely different name.

The biggest losers.

On a rare rainy Saturday night at San Diego’s Petco Park, an even stranger event occurred — the sight of the San Diego Padres dancing about the field after boxing the Dodgers into the next season.

Little brother knocked out big brother. The nail has spiked the hammer. The shadow has eclipsed the sun.

In a 5-3 comeback win, the Padres clinched the National League Division’s best-of-five series three games to one while sending the Dodgers into the darkest corners of their legacy.

This is the biggest disappointment in Dodger history. This is the biggest surprise in Dodger history. In purely baseball terms, this is arguably the lowest point in Dodger history.

“Shock factor, very high. Disappointment, very high,” said manager Dave Roberts. “It’s devastating.”

The scrum was concluded with a strikeout from Freddie Freeman, a stadium-shaking roar from the crowd, a huge infield hug from bouncing players, and a mocking sprint around the bases from pitcher Blake Snell while he held — what else? — a ceramic goose.

The Dodgers have never been so cooked.

The San Diego Padres players celebrate after defeating the Dodgers in Game 4 of the NLDS.

The San Diego Padres players celebrate after defeating the Dodgers in Game 4 of the NLDS to advance to the National League Championship Series.

(Wally Skalij / Los Angeles Times)

Little brother knocked out big brother. The nail has spiked the hammer. The shadow has eclipsed the sun.

They won more regular games than all but three teams in major league history, yet their postseason lasted a full four nights. The Dodgers won 22 more games than the Padres during the long summer but only beat them once in four tries in October.

Based on the difference in regular season win percentage, this was the second biggest upset in postseason history and the biggest in 116 years.

The Petco chants of “Beat LA” and the sight of thousands of flapping yellow towels will live on in Dodger’s lore forever. So becomes the sight of the league’s best offense spinning and reeling, the sight of the league’s best bullpen getting lost in confusion, the sight of the league’s most powerful franchise in the last decade collapsing under the pressure.

Again.

Ten postseason appearances, nine postseason failures.

Nine West Division championships and just one World Series championship in a COVID-shortened season of just 60 games, with the 2020 title earning a star with every nightmare.

“Yes, there are certainly fans who will think it was a wasted season,” Roberts said. “I don’t think there’s anyone in our clubhouse, whether in uniform or in the Dodgers, who thinks like that. But… yes, this hurts.”

This is bad. That’s really bad.

Saturday ended worse than can be imagined as a series of assists from the Dodgers’ rotating bullpen annihilated a 3-0 lead by allowing five Padres runs in the seventh inning.

The first run was plated on an Austin Nola Grounder handcuffing first baseman Freddie Freeman. The second run was brought in by Ha-Seong Kim on a scalding hot grounder on the third baseline past Max Muncy. The third run scored on a line to the right by Juan Soto.

Then came the go-ahead hit, on a two-out, two-run single by Jake Cronenworth vs. Alex Vesia, as the crowd roared a roar that surely erupted south to the border and north of Chavez Ravine and Dodgers everywhere. Fans hung their heads in familiar disgust.

After the hit, after the loss, after the Dodgers and their wet uniforms disappeared into the night, focus returned to Roberts.

Yes, him again. The man who was perceived as the villain in so many of those meltdowns will be questioned all winter about the decisions that led to that fateful inning.

First, why was Tyler Anderson pulled after five innings of a two-hit shutout? Then, with bases loaded and no outs in seventh place after a walk and two singles against Tommy Kahnle, where was top relevant Evan Phillips? Why did Roberts bring in Yency Almonte instead?

Then, after two runs scored and Cronenworth came to the plate with the runners in second and third and two outs on the plate, why did Roberts allow Almonte to throw a pitch – a ball – before catching up to Vesia, the game-winning Double moments gave up later? And again, why wait until the ninth inning to get Phillips?

Cody Bellinger is heading for first place after being busted in the eighth inning in Game 4 of the NLDS on Saturday.

Cody Bellinger is heading for first place after being busted in the eighth inning in Game 4 of the NLDS on Saturday.

(Wally Skalij / Los Angeles Times)

This is the best example of why many fans couldn’t enjoy six months of winning without waiting for the other shoe to drop.

With all this, just before Cronenworth’s hit, how could Juan Soto stroll to second base without a shot?

Afterwards, Roberts stated that Almonte shouldn’t make that first pitch to Cronenworth, he was supposed to pitch over first, but the sign was never picked up.

“I don’t know how it got lost in translation,” Roberts said, and one has to wonder, with a million coaches and advisors, how can the Dodgers lose anything in translation?

Roberts said he would save Phillips to end the game, but isn’t exiting a high-leverage situation more important than exiting the game?

Roberts was particularly scathing about Kim’s double past Muncy, saying, “Muncy could have caught it, it could have been a double play, but it wasn’t meant to be.”

There’s really nothing Roberts could say about that. Everything has already been said. It’s all been seen before.

This painfully underscores the narrative being written by the Dodgers’ postseason failures in their final 10 years of regular-season dominance. This is the best example of why many fans couldn’t enjoy six months of winning without waiting for the other shoe to drop.

And this time this shoe belongs to the freaking Padres from San Diego?

This is worse than Clayton Kershaw’s meltdown against the St. Louis Cardinals. That’s worse than Corey Seager failing to cover third base against the New York Mets.

That’s worse than being overrun by the Chicago Cubs. That’s worse than Howie Kendrick’s Grand Slam for the Washington Nationals. This is worse than the front office’s mismanagement against the Atlanta Braves.

That’s even worse than being betrayed by the Houston Astros in 2017 and whipped by the Boston Red Sox in 2018, because at least those two losses were in the World Series. In each of those years, they won at least two playoff rounds.

“They all suck,” said Justin Turner, who has seen them all and contributed only two hits to this series. “Of course the goal is to win a championship. Failing that in any round doesn’t matter.”

This time around, the Dodgers failed to win even two playoff games, despite the widest running difference in baseball in 83 years.

“Yeah, it sucks, it really sucks, you know?” said Chris Taylor, who was unbeaten in his only two games in the series. “You don’t win every year, it’s really tough. We always expect to win, so this is nothing new. We’ve been here before. Never feels better Feels the same.”

And considering this was going to be the season, the story changes for good. This would lead to the season where they would break the championship stigma in a shortened season. This was the season they would win a World Series for the first time in 34 years after a full season.

Dodgers manager Dave Roberts surrounded by Dodgers players.

Dodgers manager Dave Roberts, second from left, speaks with relief pitcher Yency Almonte during the collapse of the Dodgers’ seventh inning in Game 4 of the NLDS against the Padres.

(Wally Skalij / Los Angeles Times)

This was a Dodgers team so loaded that Roberts guaranteed a World Series Championship on “The Dan Patrick Show” in March.

“We’re winning the World Series this year,” he told Patrick. “Take it on record.”

Toss those words in the trash along with any other belief in this supposedly greatest Dodger team. Finally faced with the kind of playoff pressure that was missing in their steamy summer, the Dodgers collapsed against a Padres team that was playing their best baseball and had nothing to lose.

The starry Dodger batting order led by the Big 3 of Mookie Betts, Trea Turner and Freddie Freeman? Only Freeman showed up consistently.

The once feared Dodger Pitching Staff led by Julio Urías and Clayton Kershaw? The Padres battered around Kershaw and then benefited from a thin collection that wasn’t designed to make up for the loss of ace Walker Buehler and injury-struggling Tony Gonsolin, Dustin May and Blake Treinen.

The professional dodger fielding? A botched grounder by Trea Turner basically cost the game 2, and they never seemed really sharp again.

Meanwhile, the Padres advance to the National League Championship Series in a fight that will highlight a renewed franchise that’s really fought its way out of the big blue shadow.

“I think it’s about time we started talking about San Diego as a sports city,” said Jake Peavy, former Padres pitcher. “We lost the Chargers. This is the only game in town. The Padre fans are absolutely raving, from Del Mar down… it feels good. It feels electric.”

As for the Dodgers, they put out the lights early for the ninth time in 10 years.

But it’s never felt so dark.

https://www.latimes.com/sports/dodgers/story/2022-10-15/dodgers-lose-padres-season-ends-nlds-biggest-losers Dodgers are baseball’s biggest losers with NLDS loss to Padres

Emma Bowman

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