You don’t realize how much travel can take a toll on a baseball team until a game like Thursday’s, when a Dodgers team that had scored 41 runs in its last four games scored only two against a pitcher who’d never won at Dodger Stadium in his life.
That’s what happened when Mat Latos beat Zack Greinke — who’d never lost at Dodger Stadium in his life.
Of course, there were also times that the Dodgers didn’t look sluggish or lifeless, and the fact that their inbound flight from Toronto touched down at 4 a.m. Thursday may have amounted to nothing more than a convenient excuse for a 5-2 loss to the Cincinnati Reds.
After the game, I asked Greinke if the previous 24 hours were the worst travel he’d experienced in his brief time as a West Coast pitcher. They weren’t, he said, but he didn’t deny that the last year has been an adjustment.
“Travel in the west is definitely not good, but people do it. It’s the only way you can do it,” Greinke said. “Central travel is amazing. You don’t realize it until you’re somewhere else. There’s nothing you can do about it.”
Greinke had pitched his entire career in either Kansas City or Milwaukee before being traded to the Angels mid-season in 2012.
The impact of travel is something you might never notice by simply reading the box scores, but if you looked at the Dodgers’ schedule before the season, you would have been wise to circle the game in Toronto followed by the game in Los Angeles 24 hours later.
Looking ahead, there’s some good news: The Dodgers don’t play games three time zones apart on consecutive days after August 22.
Some bullet points to tide you through the weekend:
• According to ESPN Stats & Info, the 102.1 mph fastball Aroldis Chapman threw to Mark Ellis in the ninth inning Thursday was the fastest pitch resulting in a hit in the last five seasons.
• Hanley Ramirez has been rightfully criticized for his play in the field at times this season. Last night, however, he and Skip Schumaker did a fantastic job getting Shin-Soo Choo to think that Andre Ethier had caught Joey Votto‘s single to center field in the eighth inning. Choo, who was stealing second base on the play, sprinted a few steps back toward first before realizing that he’d been had. Ramirez might not get a Gold Glove award for the play, but …
“They ought to give the #Dodgers Hanley Ramirez an Oscar or at least an Emmy.” -Vin Scully
— Los Angeles Dodgers (@Dodgers) July 26, 2013
• There was a 20-inning, 2-1 game in Triple-A last night.
• This song is titled “Introspection” and is best played when you’re feeling introspective: