Joe Torre’s final season as manager has turned into his first losing one in 26 years.
Torre announced his retirement last month as Los Angeles (78-82) stumbled through a difficult season following consecutive NL West titles in the future Hall of Famer’s first two years at the helm.
Now, Torre is assured of his first losing record in a full season since going 80-82 with Atlanta in 1984. He was fired by St. Louis with a 20-27 mark in 1995, but followed that up with 14 consecutive winning seasons including 12 with the New York Yankees capped by four World Series titles.
Despite hinting at a possible return with another club, Torre is taking a new approach.
“Sunday will be it,” he told the Dodgers’ official website. “If I show up managing, it will really be a long shot.
“I don’t think any question, it will be emotional. I thought when I left Yankee Stadium (in 2007), I thought that was it. I’ve tried not to think about it. It will be nostalgic, but not sad. This is something I want to do. Not many get to make the choice in this line of work.”
The Dodgers clinched just their fourth losing season since 1990 when they mustered four hits in a 7-5 loss Friday in the opener of this season-ending three-game set.
For his second-to-last game, Torre will give the ball to Chad Billingsley(notes) (11-11, 3.61 ERA), who is 2-6 with a 2.97 ERA while getting an average of 2.58 runs of support over his last 11 starts.
The right-hander was backed by four runs Sunday, as he yielded one with a career high-tying 13 strikeouts in seven innings. The bullpen, however, wasted the effort with a four-run eighth in a 5-4 loss at Arizona.
“The loss is one thing, but obviously this time of year the loss doesn’t mean as much as the game Billingsley pitched to come away empty,” Torre said.
Billingsley is 2-1 with a 3.66 ERA in his last five home starts against the Diamondbacks.
The left-hander is 0-7 with a 6.64 ERA in eight road outings with the Angels and Diamondbacks since for the longest such losing streak in his six-year career. Four of those defeats have come in five road starts for Arizona, which acquired him July 25.
Another strong start against the Dodgers could snap that streak. Saunders allowed two runs with six strikeouts in five innings opposite Billingsley on Sunday, but didn’t get a decision.
He’s 1-1 with a 3.80 ERA in four starts against the Dodgers, losing his only start at Chavez Ravine on June 27, 2008.