Now the Dodgers stare down at the inevitable
Good night, sweetheart, well, it's time to go …
From the blazing start, to the dimming summer, to a flicker now so faint it requires a microscope to be detected.
The numbers say anything is possible. Right, I've got some numbers for you: The Dodgers are eight games back in the National League West and nine back in the wild-card berth. They have 26 games left to play.
Ready the toe tags. Check for breath on the mirror. Prepare a few last words.
Whatever hope the Dodgers clung to vanished into the Chavez Ravine night on Saturday, when the Giants completed a stunning -- yet somehow predictable -- ninth-inning comeback.
With the Padres suddenly acting like a team that can't win, a final -- if weak -- opportunity unexpectedly presented itself.
Not a great opportunity -- the Dodgers still have three teams to climb over in their division and four in the wild card -- but a flicker of opportunity.
Then Dodgers had a 4-2 lead in the eighth when manager Joe Torre turned the game over to his bullpen.
First he called on Octavio Dotel, who immediately gave up a solo home run to pinch-hitter Pat Burrell. Then he gave up a one-out walk to Freddy Sanchez.
If Dotel -- who has a 4.46 ERA as a Dodger -- gets out of the eighth cleanly, Torre doesn't have to call on Hong-Chin Kuo and he can use him to close.
If George Sherrill was reliable, Torre calls on him to face left-handed hitting Aubrey Huff.
But Dotel didn't do his job, and Sherrill too seldom has. So he went to Kuo, who had also pitched Friday.
Kuo retired his two batters, but with his fragile elbow, Torre wasn't going to bring him back to pitch the ninth.
"Once I used him in the eighth, it took him out of the closer's role," Torre said.
Now what to do?
In his bullpen, Torre had former closer Jonathan Broxton, Ronald Belisario and Kenley Jansen.
Since returning from his unexplained five-week absence, Belisario has a 13.00 ERA. Jansen is a rookie who has appeared in 14 games and barely been pitching for over a year.
So he went to Broxton.
"For who was available to us, I felt he was still a no-brainer for me to put out there in that situation," Torre said.
Except that Broxton has been a mess now for over two months. He looks tentative, uncertain. Like he's mentally checked out.
The choices weren't great, but I'd rather have taken my chances with the kid. Broxton predictably gave it up, and the Dodgers' last gasp seemed to have arrived.
Ready the taps. The end is at hand.
-- Steve Dilbeck