Amid his team’s recent slump, however, the conversation quickly turned to another of Roberts’ frustrations — one he believed was more widespread within the Dodgers' clubhouse and much harder for the typically mild-mannered manager to reconcile.
In what were unsolicited comments, Roberts said the team’s mindset needed to improve, that the Dodgers' sense of urgency, especially at the plate, needed to change.
He didn’t question his players’ effort but bluntly declared the team “too talented” to endure the malaise in which it was mired.
“People get caught up in their own individual paths,” Roberts said. “But the whole focusing on just winning a game, and whatever it takes to win that day, we got to get back to that mindset.”
It didn’t translate to a win Sunday afternoon.
Despite an impressive start from Julio Urías, ample chances with runners on base and what Roberts said after the game was a better overall approach from the team, the Dodgers suffered their ninth loss in their last 13 games, a 2-0 defeat to the San Francisco Giants that completed a three-game sweep at Oracle Park.
“Collectively, I thought there was a lot of compete,” Roberts said after the game, striking a different tone from his comments earlier in the day. “But again, when you have that situation [with runners on base], you have to find a way to push those guys across.”
Indeed, it wasn’t difficult to pinpoint the Dodgers’ biggest issue in the series finale setback.
They went 0 for 10 with runners in scoring position. They stranded nine men on base. And despite getting the leadoff hitter aboard in four innings, including three times on a leadoff double, they still couldn’t capitalize, getting shut out for the third time this season, against left-hander Carlos Rodón (5-4) and three Giants relievers.
It wasn’t the first time the Dodgers (37-23) have struggled in such situations.
In the series — the Dodgers’ first time getting swept in a three-game set by the Giants since 2016 — they went two for 24 with runners in scoring position.
Over the last 13 games, during which they have scored just 3.6 runs per game, the team is averaging more than seven runners left on base.
“We've done a good job of setting the table,” third baseman Justin Turner said. “We just haven't been able to get that big hit to unplug this."
Entering Sunday, Roberts pointed to the mindset of the lineup as a potential explanation.
“I just think the urgency to do whatever it takes to win that night on the offensive side hasn’t been there,” Roberts said, adding: “It’s not a lack of care. It’s not a lack of try. But the mindset has to get back to whatever it takes to win a game.”
Asked why he believes that has been the case, Roberts wasn’t sure.
“I don’t know that answer, but I need to figure it out,” he said. “Because it’s getting more clear that we’re not doing enough to win baseball games. We’re too talented. I need to find that out.”
Roberts said he “talked to a number of guys” on the team to share those sentiments.
Neither Justin Turner nor Trea Turner said he was one of them. They had different responses to the manager’s take too.
Trea Turner acknowledged “at times that could definitely be the case,” saying “sometimes I think we can do a better job of being a little bit more aggressive and more confident, instead of just sitting back and waiting for it to happen.”
He added: “I don't feel like we're defensive. I just feel like we could get downhill faster and stay downhill. I think we can do a better job of that.”
Justin Turner said, “I don’t know what that means,” when asked about Roberts’ pregame comments.
“I don't think we're doing anything differently,” he said. “Go out and you set the table and try to come up with a big hit, and [we] just didn't."
On Sunday, the Dodgers ultimately wasted a six-inning, two-run, 10-strikeout performance from Urías (3-6) and allowed the third-place Giants (33-26) to claw to within 3½ games of them atop the National League West standings. The second-place San Diego Padres remained half a game behind.
“It’s just really getting back to focusing and everybody doing their part, and that includes me, all of us getting on the same page,” Roberts said. “I saw that today. It just didn’t work out.”
This story originally appeared in Los Angeles Times.