On Friday, Clayton Kershaw lost to the San Diego Padres for the first time since June 2013. The following night, the Los Angeles Dodgers suffered back-to-back losses at Dodger Stadium for only the second time this season.
L.A. scored a combined three runs in the defeats, which is a far cry from the high-powered offense that was seen at the start of the season and has generally maintained an efficient and prolific level of production.
The Dodgers went 1-for-8 with runners in scoring position and stranded eight when their four-game winning streak was snapped. They then were 2-for-5 with men in scoring position and left seven on base, squandering what was a strong outing from Kenta Maeda.
Following their second consecutive loss, Dodgers manager Dave Roberts called on his batters to improve by taking advantage of opportunities and avoid hitting the ball on the ground, via Ken Gurnick of MLB.com:
“I definitely don’t think we were flat. You’ve got to give credit to the guys over there when they do pitch well,” he said. “But, collectively, we can do a better job of at-bats. There’s going to be games where you just don’t score runs.
“When you get into leverage counts, we have a tendency to put their pitch in play softly on the ground. I think, at times, we’re getting big instead of staying in the big part of the field and winning a pitch or taking a pitch that we might have done in the past. As a group, when you’re putting secondary pitches in play, softly on the ground, we as hitters have to make adjustments as well.”
The Dodgers scored at least five runs in each game during their recent winning streak. That Roberts would highlight a need to get the ball in the air is hardly a surprise.
The Dodgers rank fifth overall with 144 home runs this season. While they have heavily leaned on slugging, the team additionally is first in the National League and second in the Majors with 347 walks.
Their batting average with runners in scoring position has dipped to .265, which is still good for 13th overall. Situational hitting was an area Dodgers president of baseball operations Andrew Friedman previously noted was a strength for the team.