It's a new day in Los Angeles, the sun is shining, the birds are singing. And even thought the bitterness of last night's defeat lingers in one's mouth like cigars after a long night of scotch-drinking, already the pain is beginning to subside. And in the spirit of the eternally optimistic Jon Weisman over at Dodger Thoughts, I still hold out hope that we can pull this NLCS off.
Crazy, I know. Last night was a gut-punch (or a face punch, depending on your perspective and if you have wallabies around), but no different from the way Phillies fans must have felt after we took Game 2 with the Andre Ethier bases-loaded walk. The thing about a seven-game series is, unlike the best-of-five League Divisional Series, the best team usually wins, and fluke victories tend to balance out.
So we trade off flukes with Philly, so what? Unlike Games 2 and 3, our offense showed some signs of life last night. Unlike Games 2 and 3, we broke through against the starting Phillies pitcher. Unlike I don't know how long, Manny Ramirez came up with a fine defensive play late in the game.
There is of course a delicious irony to the much-maligned Phillies bullpen surviving the late innings, and Jonathan Broxton's repeat Game 4 meltdown involving Matt Stairs, ever-predictably chronicled by the LAT's resident hack this morning (very nice call by SoSG reader Erin last night, hours before press deadlines). Depressing? Yes. Series-clinching? Possibly, even probably.
But, not necessarily. Those of us Dodger faithful can still believe in the team's resilience, in Joe Torre's wisdom, in Fox's television ratings boons. If Brad Lidge can get it together, so can Broxton, even after a disappointing loss like this (remember, he shut down the side in Game 2 with similar heat). Our postseason odds of winning the NLCS are at 15%, only a a couple points behind the Angels, who have one game less of a deficit in their series.
This can happen. This may be the Zoloft talking, but I believe it to be true. And here are five reasons off the top of my head why we can keep hope alive:
1. Teams can come back from 3-1 deficits; 12 teams have done it to date. Boston did it in the 2007 ALCS vs. Cleveland (winning Game 5 at Jacobs before coming back to romp two games at Fenway, en route to another World Series title); and of course they dug out of an even bigger hole against the Yankees in the 2004 ALCS. In the National League, the most recent was the 2003 Marlins, who came back from a 3-1 deficit against the Chicago Cubs. The full list (please check my work on this):
- 1903 Boston Americans (Red Sox), down 1-3, won WS 5-3 over Pittsburgh.
- 1925 Pittsburgh Pirates, down 1-3, won WS 4-3 over Washington.
- 1958 New York Yankees, down 1-3, won WS 4-3 over Milwaukee.
- 1968 Detroit Tigers, down 1-3, won WS 4-3 over St. Louis.
- 1979 Pittsburgh Pirates, down 1-3, won WS 4-3 over Baltimore.
- 1985 Kansas City Royals, down 1-3, won ALCS 4-3 over Toronto.
- 1985 Kansas City Royals, down 1-3, won WS 4-3 over St. Louis.
- 1986 Boston Red Sox, down 1-3, won ALCS 4-3 over California.
- 1996 Atlanta Braves, down 1-3, won NLCS 4-3 over St. Louis.
- 2003 Florida Marlins, down 1-3, won NLCS 4-3 over Chicago.
- 2004 Boston Red Sox, down 0-3 (and 1-3), won ALCS 4-3 over New York.
- 2007 Boston Red Sox, down 1-3, won ALCS 4-3 over Cleveland.
2. Three wins in a row, for this Dodger team, was a common trend this season. The Dodgers have had 25 three-game win streaks this season; 28 if you count the first three games of the postseason as well. If you count discrete streaks of three games or more, the Dodgers have 11 of those, 12 if you count the postseason.
3. Three losses in a row, for this Dodger team, is relatively uncommon. Remember, we didn't get our first three-game loss streak until our 100th game, at the end of July, holding out longer than any other major league team. Until then, we had resisted the consecutive loss trifecta--just as we can by winning Game 5.
4. We need to take this one game at a time, and on the mound for us tomorrow is Vicente Padilla, who has definitely had a hot hand of late for the Dodgers. Playing like a stud since the Dodgers picked him up off the scrap heap, Padilla has been 5-0 for Los Angeles, including a postseason victory against the Cardinals (on the road, to clinch the NLDS), and hasn't had a loss yet as a Dodger. Wednesday night won't break this pattern. Furthermore, Shane Victorino won't get a chance to choose which body part Padilla will be allowed to target. All we need is to win once with Padilla to get the series back to Los Angeles, where we are 50-31 with a .617 winning percentage; 53-32 / .624 if you count the playoffs.
5. Ticket to Game 6 are still available, and I want to go. And I don't have anything else to do Friday night. I just want to see another game at the Stadium, cheering on our Dodgers. And I don't think that's too much to ask of the baseball gods.
It can happen. So you'd better watch.