That four-game losing streak the Dodgers brought home from Cincinnati suddenly seems less dire.
October seems more real.
With that comes the interesting manner in which Don Mattingly handled his bench in Tuesday night’s 5-3, 11-inning win, and whether it’s a useful template for how the Dodgers shape their postseason roster.
Dee Gordon pinch-ran for Adrian Gonzalez in the 10th inning. Mattingly admitted after the game that he would have pinch-ran Gordon earlier. Before the game, Gordon took ground balls at second base and shagged fly balls in the outfield — an excellent sign that the Dodgers would like Gordon, a natural shortstop, to become more versatile come playoff time.
Scott Van Slyke hadn’t homered in more than three months before Tuesday, and was only Mattingly’s fourth choice off the bench (after Jerry Hairston, Skip Schumaker and Michael Young, who played first base in the 11th inning). One might argue that he was the fifth choice. Nick Punto was set to pinch hit instead of Schumaker had Mark Ellis reached base to lead off the ninth inning.
So did Van Slyke swing himself into an October roster spot with his two-run walk-off shot against Arizona? Maybe. He might need a few more big hits like Tuesday’s.
The factor working against Gordon and Van Slyke is experience. Juan Uribe and Carl Crawford are the Dodgers’ only starting position players who have played in a World Series. Starters Clayton Kershaw, Zack Greinke, Hyun-Jin Ryu and Ricky Nolasco have eight combined starts in October. Kenley Jansen, Paco Rodriguez, Ronald Belisario or Brandon League have never pitched in the playoffs.
That’s a huge boost for Hairston, Schumaker and Punto — who have all won World Series crowns.
A few more bullet points for a Wednesday morning:
• The Dodgers will pay about $9.9 million in luxury tax this year, USA Today reports.
• Words will be spoken, prayers will be prayed and thoughts will be offered today on the 12th anniversary of the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks. MLB’s gesture: All teams will observe a pregame moment of silence, display a silhouetted “We Shall Not Forget” batter ribbon at the park, “special lineup cards and base jewels” (we don’t know exactly what these are), and an American flag sewn on the side of each hat.
• At one point yesterday, I wrote that the season-opening games between the Dodgers and Arizona Diamondbacks in Sydney will be MLB’s first in Australia. That’s not quite true. They will be the first regular-season games Down Under, but designer extraordinaire Todd Radom offered this contradictory evidence on Twitter yesterday.
• The California State Assembly approved a resolution Monday urging Los Angeles and several surrounding cities to rename Manchester Avenue and Firestone Boulevard after Robinson. The road used to be known as State Route 42, which was Robinson’s number.
• We know only that “Funky Virginia” by Sir Guy and the Rocking Cavaliers was released in 1969 and seems to be the musical equivalent of one of those lab animals used for organ harvesting: We don’t know its back story, how it fits into the complete Sir Guy catalogue, etc. The song doesn’t even need to make sense really — the state of Virginia probably isn’t as funky as the song makes it seem — so long it serves its purpose. And these riffs are ripe for sampling. Purpose served: