Connect with us

Sports

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

Published

on

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

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.

“It just seems like we’re running cold,” manager Dave Roberts said, peppered with a string of lineup questions that have become common in recent weeks.

“When you’re not hitting, it certainly seems lifeless,” Roberts added. “I know it’s not from care and preparation. But the bottom line is, it’s about results. And we’re not getting them right now.”

Advertisement

Not even close.

Instead, the Dodgers have endured their first five-game losing streak since 2019. They suffered their first series sweep since last June.

And, in what has been a recurring 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.

“It’s still a really good lineup, and we know it’s gonna flip,” second baseman Gavin Lux said. “But yeah, I think we all expect more out of ourselves. I think everyone does.”

Even before Sunday’s first pitch — which was moved up to 12:10 p.m. local time to avoid impending storms — 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.

Advertisement

“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.

“They let us know,” Freeman said, noting that the team’s trouble against fastballs was a topic in hitters meetings this weekend. “So we’ll try and get on the heater tomorrow.”

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

Advertisement

(Jeff Dean / Associated Press)

Yet, in a game that saw the Dodgers (33-22) get shut out until the ninth inning Sunday, things only got worse.

Of the 28 four-seamers Reds pitcher threw in the zone, the Dodgers took 10 for strikes, fouled nine off, whiffed on five and hit four into routine outs.

Not one was turned into a hit. Not once did they punish a mistake over the middle.

Advertisement

“When you get a good pitch to hit,” Roberts said, “you gotta hit them.”

Couple that issue 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 .148 the past 16 games, and were 0 for 12 on Sunday), and the Dodgers’ juggernaut offense has suddenly looked more Jello-ish in construction.

Soft. Flimsy. And lacking much consistency.

“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.”

The Reds (23-30) took the lead Sunday with the kind of rally that has eluded the Dodgers recently.

Advertisement

In the third inning, Cincinnati scored four runs off Dodgers starter Yoshinobu Yamamoto on four hits and one walk. Three of the knocks came with two strikes. All four runs scored with two outs. Roberts sounded almost envious as he recounted the sequence postgame.

“The bottom line is that they found a way to fight with two strikes,” Roberts said. “When you fight, you get those breaks sometimes.”

The Dodgers, on the other hand, had no such luck.

In 28 at-bats between a first-inning single from Mookie Betts and a ninth-inning single from Ohtani, the Dodgers recorded just two hits — a pair of doubles by Teoscar Hernández in the fourth and seventh innings.

Both times, however, the team left Hernández stranded. And up until Freeman’s RBI double in the ninth, the club was not only 0 for five with runners in scoring position on Sunday (they finished one for eight), but had gone hitless in 22 straight at-bats with a runner at second or third base.

Advertisement

During this 16-game stretch, the Dodgers have batted just .189 with runners in scoring position in all.

“Obviously, we want to score as many runs as we possibly can, and we haven’t been doing that the last few games,” Freeman said. “You never know which at-bat is gonna break it open. Hopefully that [ninth-inning RBI] was the one.”

Freeman was the latest team member to downplay the team’s recent struggles at the plate, insisting that such slumps are inevitable over a 162-game season, and that confidence in the clubhouse hasn’t wavered.

“I don’t think anybody needs to question the confidence in our lineup,” Freeman said. “It’s mid-May, we’ll be fine.”

Advertisement

Still, since the start of this slide on May 10, the Dodgers are now batting .210 as a team (third-worst in the majors during that span), have 14 home runs (tied for 10th-fewest) and are averaging just 3.5 runs per game (a sharp decline from the 5.5 per game they were averaging previously).

It hasn’t yet hurt their overall numbers on the year yet. They are still second in the majors in both runs and OPS, and sixth in batting average. They also remain safely in first place in the National League West, holding the second-largest division lead in MLB with a 5½ game edge over the San Francisco Giants.

Nonetheless, when Roberts was asked if the recent malaise has come as a surprise to him, given the obvious talent on his $300-million roster, the manager softly 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.

Advertisement

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 after 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 fly out in his next at-bat.

“He’s emotional and cares, and he’s trying to impress with a new ballclub,” Roberts said. “I just tried to reassure him and give him some confidence, love on him a little bit, and try to take a little bit of pressure off.”

“You just see the player, and you kind of feel what he’s got going on in his brain, in his heart, all that stuff,” Roberts added. “Sometimes I’m sure — I’ve never thrown a major league inning — but you feel like you’re on an island. So I wanted to show that we were all behind him.”

Advertisement
Continue Reading
Advertisement
Click to comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Sports

Paige Bueckers aims to make this her final season at UConn … and to go out with a bang

Published

on

Paige Bueckers aims to make this her final season at UConn … and to go out with a bang

If there’s an overriding lesson from the last four years of Paige Bueckers’ college basketball career, it’s this, she explains: “You never know what each day will bring. You never know what life is gonna throw at you.”

There was a time when Bueckers didn’t necessary think that way, when she assumed her plans would come to pass. Like when she arrived in Storrs, Conn., in the fall of 2020. She knew then that her freshman season — already outlined with the COVID-19 protocols of testing, masks and isolation — wouldn’t look exactly the way she always imagined as a kid. Still, when she thought about the four seasons in front of her, there was a sense of expectation and progress: Four years of healthy play, a few national titles, a graduation and at the end of it, a seat at the 2024 WNBA Draft.

Very little has gone to plan. Bueckers was, in fact, at the 2024 WNBA Draft, but she was there supporting her teammates Aaliyah Edwards and Nika Mühl being drafted. She described the night as “surreal,” having always imagined that the class she entered with alongside Edwards and Mühl would be the class with which she exited. Instead, she’s now watching them begin their WNBA careers on television as she returns to college offseason workouts, using one of the two available redshirt years.

Bueckers has played only two healthy seasons of college basketball, as a freshman, when she was named national Player of the Year, and last season, when she was again an All-American. She has advanced to three Final Fours in four years but never won a title.

Advertisement

She has readjusted her expectations, imagining her name called in the 2025 WNBA Draft. She plans to make the 2024-25 season her last at UConn, she told The Athletic.

“There’s a much larger sense of urgency,” Bueckers said. “This is my last year to get what I came here for, which is a national championship. … No more ‘Passive Paige.’”

As Bueckers enters her final chapter in Storrs, going through her first (and last) college offseason workouts in which she’s completely healthy, she’s focused on definitively shifting her mentality while recognizing the need for flexibility. After all, that’s the lesson the last four years have taught her.

Bueckers’ final shot at a national title will come with some adjustments. Edwards and Mühl are gone. The three returning upperclassmen — Azzi Fudd, Aubrey Griffin and Caroline Ducharme — are coming off injuries. Kaitlyn Chen, a Princeton transfer, is settling into the program after arriving on campus in late May.

But that turnover in roster — nothing new to Bueckers — makes her mental shift that much more important as she prepares to shoulder so much more.

Advertisement

UConn coach Geno Auriemma can point to March to remind Bueckers of her focus. Conversation around Bueckers’ aggressive mentality have been “constant” since she arrived on campus in 2020, he said. But the Huskies’ recent history, an unexpected run to the Final Four, led by Bueckers, provides all the evidence she needs to continue to be a bit more selfish on the floor. Before the Big East tournament, Auriemma said he told Bueckers, “Paige, you need it to get 30 every night. Just make life easier on everybody else. We don’t have a lot of options. We don’t have a lot of choices. So this is what we got. And we can’t be milling around with this stuff.”

In short: No more Passive Paige.

Through five NCAA Tournament games, Bueckers’ game completely elevated. After averaging 21.3 points, 3.7 assists and 4.8 rebounds a game during the regular season, she averaged 25.8 points, 4.6 assists and 8 rebounds a game, pulling the Huskies to their 23rd Final Four.

“I love to score. I’ve always felt like I’m a pass-first player. I love to get my teammates involved. I love to make sure everybody’s happy,” Bueckers said. “But at the end of the day, everyone is happy when we win, and I think we have a better chance of winning when I’m aggressive.”

Added Auriemma: “She’s too nice, too caring about what other people think. Don’t get me wrong, that’s a great, great quality. I just don’t know if it’s a great quality for (a) killer superstar.”

Advertisement

Bueckers has learned too much over the past four seasons to make too many plans. Everything can change in an instant. She knows, because she has been there (multiple times). But with a heightened sense of urgency, she’s approaching this offseason differently. She wants to come in as a better scorer, passer and rebounder. Ask her where her game can improve, and there is no shortage of options that come to Bueckers’ mind: her range, 3-point shooting, off-the-dribble shooting, one-on-one moves, ballhandling, playing off two feet, experimenting with tempo.

She’s trying not to live in the past too much and also not look too far into the future. She hasn’t rewatched the Huskies’ final game of the 2024 NCAA Tournament yet — a loss to Iowa — but she’ll get there. She knows she has to watch it to completely turn the page from last season. Just like the NCAA Tournament, there will be lessons to glean from those 40 minutes, but Bueckers still wonders if she had been just a bit more aggressive, maybe the game would’ve turned out differently. With one final year at UConn, she’ll make sure not to feel that after any game again, she said.

“I want to be an unselfish player, somebody that people love to play with, but at the same time, I’m trying to balance that with also being like, a killer, a scorer, a bucket getter,” she said. “It’s always been a battle of me trying to find the happy medium, but I think for the most part from here on out I gotta be more aggressive first.”

(Photo of Paige Bueckers: Steph Chambers / Getty Images)

Advertisement
Continue Reading

Sports

Barstool Sports founder Dave Portnoy reveals he recently 'beat' cancer

Published

on

Barstool Sports founder Dave Portnoy reveals he recently 'beat' cancer

In the most subtle, low-key fashion, Barstool Sports founder Dave Portnoy revealed he had, and beat, cancer.

The 47-year-old revealed the diagnosis on an episode of “The BFFs Pod” when his co-hosts took note of a scar on his neck.

Portnoy said he “beat it” and replied yes when it was skin cancer “lying in the sun all day with no sunscreen.”

Barstool Sports founder David Portnoy attends an event. (Jeff Bottari/Getty Images)

Advertisement

“I’ve had a heart attack, cancer and stung by bees, beat it all,” Portnoy joked.

“I went to a doctor, did a skin thing, they scrape it, and one of them came back cancerous; got to take it out,” Portnoy added.

Portnoy said that he had actually been trying to get people to notice the scar. 

“I’ve been trying to shove it in people’s faces,” Portnoy said.

But he did say he kept the operations to himself.

Advertisement
Dave Portnoy

Barstool Sports founder Dave Portnoy revealed that he recently had cancer and beat it. (The Dave Portnoy Show With Eddie & Co/Youtube)

BARRY BONDS, WILLIE MAYS’ GODSON, POSTS TRIBUTE TO FELLOW GIANTS LEGEND

“I didn’t even tell anyone I was doing it. It was all part of my master plan. God forbid the [Boston] Celtics lost last night, I was going to be like ‘I have cancer. I don’t want to talk about it.’ But they won.”

Portnoy said he and his fellow Barstool hosts were recording a recap of the Celtics’ NBA Finals victory, but no one even mentioned the scar or a bandage on his neck from his celebratory cigar video he posted.

“It’s almost like they know I’m going to call myself a cancer survivor,” Portnoy said. “I was getting close to the point I was going to re-cut this thing open and just start bleeding until somebody would be like, ‘What is going on?’ This is a huge f—ing scar, and nobody’s saying anything.”

Portnoy then said on X, formerly Twitter, that the cancer “wasn’t the serious kind thank god.”

Advertisement
Dave Portnoy

David Portnoy of Barstool Sports (Tom Briglia/ Getty Images)

Portnoy bought back Barstool last year, initially selling the company for about $500 million, and he bought it back for just $1 after the Penn-ESPN deal.

Follow Fox News Digital’s sports coverage on X and subscribe to the Fox News Sports Huddle newsletter.

Advertisement
Continue Reading

Sports

Shoe is on the other foot as Dodgers lose to Rockies in walk-off fashion

Published

on

Shoe is on the other foot as Dodgers lose to Rockies in walk-off fashion

This time, the late-game magic belonged to the Colorado Rockies.

A day after the Dodgers’ historic ninth-inning comeback at Coors Field, their hosts answered back Wednesday with an 7-6 walk-off win.

With the score tied in the bottom of the ninth — and one of the Dodgers’ typically low-leverage relievers, Yohan Ramírez, on the mound in the most crucial of situations — the Rockies flipped the script from Tuesday’s night loss, when they blew a five-run lead in the final frame.

This time, they put two runners aboard immediately with back-to-back singles. They advanced the lead one to third on a ground ball to first base.

Advertisement

Then, in a rare celebratory sequence for a team that has long resided in the National League West basement, outfielder Brenton Doyle delivered a walk-off sacrifice fly.

The Rockies piled out of the dugout. They sprayed Gatorade around the infield.

The exaltation the Dodgers experienced Tuesday, this time was on the other side.

The Dodgers had led for most of the game, despite a rocky start from right-hander Bobby Miller.

Making his first outing in more than two months because of a shoulder injury, Miller battled through a five-run, 6 ⅓-inning appearance. He gave up a three-run homer to Michael Toglia in the bottom of the first, after issuing a single and walk with two out in the inning.

Advertisement

But the 25-year-old bounced back from there, giving up just one run over the next five innings with the help of three double plays.

The Dodgers, meanwhile, surged ahead thanks to production from the bottom of the lineup.

In the second inning, Nos. 6-8 hitters Gavin Lux (single), Cavan Biggio (hit-by-pitch) and Kiké Hernández (walk) loaded the bases for Shohei Ohtani, who promptly unloaded them with a three-run double. Ohtani was driven home on Freddie Freeman’s RBI single in the next at-bat.

With the score tied again, 4-4, in the top of the fifth, it was another bottom-half hitter, outfielder Jason Heyward from the five-hole, who delivered a two-run double off the wall in right field, continuing his recent tear after Tuesday night’s ninth-inning grand slam.

In the top of the seventh, though, Roberts tried to extend Miller — who was only at 73 pitches — only to watch him surrender a leadoff double to Sean Bouchard, who eventually scored what was Miller’s fifth earned run of the game.

Advertisement

After Miller exited, the seventh only got messier for the Dodgers. Third baseman Biggio booted a grounder with one out. No. 9 hitter Adael Amador belted a double off reliever Daniel Hudson. And Brenton Doyle tied the score at 6-6 on a one-out sacrifice fly — what could have been the third out of the inning had Biggio not made an error.

Continue Reading
Advertisement

Trending