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Frustrated Dodgers fall to Reds, extend losing streak to five games

May 26th, 2024

The Dodgers had to wake up early Sunday, after their 1:40 p.m. game against the Cincinnati Reds started 90 minutes early because of thunderstorms in the area.

The team’s bats, however, still looked asleep in a weather-delayed defeat at Great American Ball Park, with the Dodgers falling 4-1 to the Reds to suffer a weekend series sweep and their fifth loss in a row overall.

The five-game losing streak is the longest the Dodgers have endured since 2019. The three-game sweep marked their first winless series since last June.

And, in what has been a common theme during the team’s extended two-week slide (they are 7-9 in their last 16 games), the offense remained the club’s biggest weakness, managing just five hits in a game that was delayed for an hour before the sixth inning by rain.

Read more: Dodgers’ James Paxton has found success despite missing a key ingredient

Even before Sunday’s first pitch — which was moved up to 12:10 p.m. local time to avoid impending storms — manager Dave Roberts was bemoaning his lineup’s recent slump, struggling in his pregame address with reporters to reconcile how a team so talented could look so listless at the plate.

“I think it’s lack of consistency of approach,” Roberts said. “We’re trying to cover too many parts of the zone, in my opinion, and we’re missing the fastball. I think that’s the crux.”

Indeed, the fastball has been the Dodgers’ most puzzling problem lately.

Entering Sunday, the club was batting just .197 against four-seamers since May 10 (fifth-worst in the majors during that span), had whiffed on 27% of them (second-worst in the majors) and were missing myriad opportunities where the pitch “should be moved forward,” as Roberts put it.

Couple that with the absence of Max Muncy (who is continuing to battle an oblique strain), a less than 100% Shohei Ohtani (who has been nursing a hamstring bruise) and almost no consistent production from the bottom of the lineup (their Nos. 6-9 hitters have batted an MLB-worst .151 the past 16 games), and the Dodgers’ juggernaut offense has suddenly looked more Jello-ish in construction.

Soft. Flimsy. And lacking much consistency.

The Dodgers' Shohei Ohtani stands in the dugout after grounding out during the fourth inning against the Cincinnati Reds.The Dodgers' Shohei Ohtani stands in the dugout after grounding out during the fourth inning against the Cincinnati Reds.

The Dodgers’ Shohei Ohtani stands in the dugout after grounding out during the fourth inning against the Cincinnati Reds on Sunday. (Jeff Dean / Associated Press)

“You can’t miss balls at the belt and chase below also,” Roberts said, noting his team’s penchant to make outs on pitches out of the strike zone, as well, in recent weeks. “Bad combo.”

Sunday served as the latest frustrating example.

The Dodgers got a leadoff single from Mookie Betts in the first inning, only to watch Ohtani, Freddie Freeman and Teoscar Hernández record consecutive outs that ended the inning.

In the second inning, Andy Pages reached safely on an error, only for Gavin Lux to ground into a double-play the next at-bat.

Then, after the Dodgers went down in order in the third, the Reds mounted a small-ball rally against starting pitcher Yoshinobu Yamamoto, stringing together four singles (three of them with two strikes) and a walk to score four runs — all of them crossing the plate with two outs.

The Dodgers’ only real scoring opportunities came when Hernández doubled in the fourth and seventh innings — the team’s lone hits in a 28 at-bat sequence between the first and ninth innings.

Both times, however, the team left Hernández stranded, en route to finishing the day just one for eight with runners in scoring position (the lone hit, an RBI double from Freddie Freeman, came in the ninth inning).

Read more: ‘Freak of nature’: Inside Shohei Ohtani’s career-best start to his first Dodgers season

When asked if the recent malaise has come as a surprise to Roberts, given the obvious talent on his $300-million roster, the manager somberly nodded his head.

“It does, it does,” Roberts said. “It’s guys needing to be better. I mean, that part of it is simple. The execution part of it is harder. But having a plan and being consistent, that’s easy. It is. It really is.”

The Dodgers’ performance lately, however, has suggested otherwise, leading to the kind of exasperating, extended lull to which their star-studded offense was supposed to be immune.

Words for Ramírez

There was an unusual sequence near the end of Sunday’s game, after Dodgers reliever Yohan Ramírez — who hit two batters in a disastrous outing Friday — plunked two more hitters during an appearance in the eighth inning.

While Roberts came to the mound following Ramírez’s second hit batter, the manager didn’t remove the veteran right-hander from the game.

Instead, Roberts put his arms around Ramírez — a journeyman right-hander already on his third team this season — and spoke into his ear for several moments. Then, he let Ramírez stay in the game and escape a bases-loaded jam with a flyout in his next at-bat.

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This story originally appeared in Los Angeles Times.

This content was originally sourced and posted at Yahoo! Sports – News, Scores, Standings, Rumors, Fantasy Games »
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