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: