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Dodgers claim they're still buyers, but is a comeback actually possible?

August 20, 2010 |  9:48 am

OK, close your eyes hard and just for a moment imagine the Dodgers coming back. I said close your eyes. Now try harder.

Here's the question the Dodgers have to ask: Can it still happen?

Well, sure. It's happened before. It is exceedingly rare, but it's happened. It could happen now, too.

This would require, of course, that the Dodgers believe it can. That they still have fight left, which they claim to possess.

"I think so," said outfielder Reed Johnson. "You can feel it in the dugout before the game. Guys definitely haven't rolled over."

The Dodgers won Thursday on Johnson's first home run of the season. Probably not the template for a great stretch run.

Still, they have to find ways to win, and different people have to be able to contribute. Yet despite the Ted Lilly shutout, the Dodgers remained 12 games back of the Padres in the National League West.

That is a serious amount of games to overcome when the calendar reads Aug. 20.

"There's still a lot of excitement in this dugout, we just can't strike the match," said manager Joe Torre. "We can’t get anything going at this point."

If they do, there's no guarantee the Padres come back to them or the four teams ahead of them for the wild card will disappear.

For now, though, the Dodgers march on, believing they can still find the magic. Torre said despite the standings, the Dodgers are making no plans to become sellers at the Aug. 31 trading deadline for players who have cleared waivers.

"We're not talking that way now," he said. "We're obviously feeling the squeeze at this point and time, because we're running out of games. But we're not thinking in terms of jumping ship."

Falling further back might yet alter their thinking, but for now the Dodgers can take comfort in the knowledge of some great comebacks in the past:

-- The 1964 St. Louis Cardinals were 11 games back on Aug. 23, and with the Phillies' infamous collapse, went 27-11 down the stretch. They came back to win the pennant and the World Series.

-- In 1969, the Amazin' Mets were 10 games out on Aug. 13, finished 38-11 and went onto win it all.

-- The 1978 Yankees were nine back on Aug. 13, finished 38-11 and captured the World Series.

-- As the Angels could tell you, they were up on the 1995 Mariners by 11½ games on Aug. 24. It was some collapse by the Angels, but the Mariners did finish 25-11 to capture the division.

So, see, it's not impossible. Not completely.

-- Steve Dilbeck