Dodgers attempt to shake off heartbreaker
Three straight wins necessary to keep season alive
PHILADELPHIA -- To a man, the Dodgers insisted on Sunday night they would have little trouble forgetting the beating they took in Game 3 of the National League Championship Series. On Monday, after a sucker-punch of a 5-4 loss, they said they'd have to forget, but more than anything it sounded like they were trying to convince themselves.
The Dodgers did everything right on Monday. They did bounce back from the 11-0 thrashing. They got key hits against Phillies starter Joe Blanton and they handed a lead over to their usually impenetrable bullpen. Monday's Dodgers looked nothing like a shellshocked team.
And even so, they found themselves coping with defeat. Jimmy Rollins' two-run, two-out, game-ending double ruined the Dodgers' hopes of earning a 2-2 split. If Los Angeles had won on Monday, it would have assured that the series would head back west for a Game 6 on Friday. Instead, it could end on Wednesday.
"They'll show up," manager Joe Torre said on Monday night. "We're going to show up here day after tomorrow, there's no question. They'll be ready to play. It's obviously a tough one to get past, but you know, that's our job. They still have to win four games."
The challenge the Dodgers face lies not only in rebounding from the backbreaking loss, but in facing daunting odds. Two teams have come back from a 3-1 deficit to win the NLCS: the 1996 Braves against St. Louis, and the 2003 Marlins against the Cubs. The 2007 Red Sox turned around a 3-1 hole against the Indians in the American League Championship Series, and of course the 2004 Red Sox came from down 3-0 against Torre's Yankees. But it hasn't happened much.
3-1 hole not insurmountable
"Anything is possible, but we know it's not an easy battle," second baseman Orlando Hudson said. "It's going to be a grind every inning. With the guys they've got in the bullpen, the two unbelievable lefties they've got on the mound [Game 5 starter Cole Hamels and likely Game 6 starter Cliff Lee], and I tell you what, man, that lineup is dangerous. And along with this crowd they have, we've got a lot of things to fight against."
And that was the tone throughout the visitors' clubhouse at Citizens Bank Park. On Sunday, the mood was almost cavalier. The Dodgers knew they'd taken a beating, but it was easy to believe the repeated insistence that an 11-0 loss is quickly forgotten. On Monday, it was quiet, with many players knowing they'd turn over the 5-4 defeat again and again.
"You don't really say anything in a situation like that," said starting pitcher Randy Wolf. "You feel stunned. It's not a good feeling. But you've just got to move on. They're always tough to swallow. But the good thing is we have an opportunity to make something magical happen, win three games in a row. It's not over yet. As much as it's going to be a tough battle, there is a chance."
It may help that the series offers up an off-day on Tuesday. On one hand, it's an extra day to stew over the defeat. On the other, it's an extra day for players to collect themselves, so as not to worry about a hangover from the loss.
"We've just got to take tomorrow and [recuperate] from it and come back on whatever day after that, play again," said reliever George Sherrill. "We know what we've got to do. We've just got to do it. We have an off-day, so I guess that's good. But either way, we know what we have to do."
The question, of course, is not what to do, but how to do it. And on that front, it was hard to find answers. The Dodgers will do the best they can, but there's not exactly a blueprint for getting back off the horse after falling off the way they did on Monday.
"You've got to train your mind to where you have a short memory," said reliever Jonathan Broxton, who took the loss on Monday. "Forget about the past and come back the next day ready to go."
Matthew Leach is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.