Los Angeles manager Don Mattingly, in a file photo, looks like he did late Wednesday night after a serious team meeting to talk about the Dodgers' poor performance through 15 games this season. (Photo by Denis Poroy/Getty Images)
Minutes after the Dodgers lost their fourth straight game Wednesday night, manager Don Mattingly shut the clubhouse doors and called a team meeting, which only 15 games into the season says more about how poorly the team is playing than its 7-8 record.
Later, the always diplomatic Mattingly chose his words carefully in putting the best spin on describing what had been said but the unvarnished upshot of it was simple.
This Dodger team with a $200 million-plus payroll is playing like losers.
What else can you take from these words from Mattingly:
"The last few days we've gotten down, and it feels like we're way down. This club shouldn't feel like that. This club should be a club that feels like we're in every game and can throw a bunch of runs up."
More to the point, the manager all but said, the Dodgers have been playing like a team that feels oppressed, sad-assed and sorry.
"We talked about what's acceptable and what's not acceptable and how do we turn it around. How do we go on? We can't sit here and say it's going to be OK. We have to continue to get after it, continue to work and make sure we're not sitting here feeling sorry for ourselves in any way shape or form."
It's about attitude especially when they get behind early in a game, Mattingly said he told his team, for what else can you make of this:
"You want your club to feel like we've got all day, keep it right there and we'll get some runs on the board and get ourselves back in the game. Right now, I can't sit here and tell you that you get that feeling on the bench."
It was not a good home stand for the Dodgers, swept by the Padres on top of the indignity that continues to fall out from The Brawl.
In the series finale, Kershaw gives up three home runs. Nick Punto drops a foul pop fly in front of his dugout that seemingly opens the gates to a three-run inning that, given Mattingly's description of the team attitude, basically meant the game was over.
Then there was the Matt Kemp Saga. Mattingly gives him a day off to gather his thoughts away from the pressure of his disappointing slump, but then he puts Kemp in to pinch-hit in the most pressurized situation of a game that, by his own words, was already lost: Bases-loaded, one out, the bottom of the seventh, down by more than what a grand-slam could matter.
Kemp may have gotten a bad call on a 3-0 count that he was so confident was a run-scoring walk that he tossed his bat and started for first base. At 3-2, after a second tough call, Kemp swung poorly at a pitch off the outside corner and missed.
The good feeling Kemp may have had from the day off was gone. Put that on Mattingly.
Earlier the Dodgers had voted to leave from Dodger Stadium for the flight to the East Coast, so this was a long night with the team arriving in Baltimore around daybreak for a badly-needed day off before taking on the Orioles in an inter-league series.
Some good news: The Dodgers, needing more offensive pop, will be able to use another hitter in the designated batter spot in the lineup.