The good news for the Los Angeles Dodgers is that they are playing their best baseball of the season, with six straight wins. The bad news is that the team is running out of time, down two games to the Cardinals for the second National League wild card spot with just two games remaining.
The Dodgers need wins in their final two games, and for the Cardinals to lose their final two contests, just to force a one-game playoff, which would be at Dodger Stadium on Thursday.
The six-game winning streak came directly after the Dodgers lost on Sept. 25 in San Diego to the Padres. Manager Don Mattingly held a team meeting and wouldn't divulge the details except to say that he was the keynote speaker. Whatever was said has resonated with the players -- the Dodgers have outscored their opponents 37-9 during their winning streak.
"It says a lot about where we're at, and about Don Mattingly's leadership," said catcher A.J. Ellis. "He called us on the carpet, and we started taking our own personal accountability."
Before the win streak the Dodgers scored just 3.0 runs per game since their blockbuster trade that brought first baseman Adrian Gonzalez to Los Angeles. The team went just 11-17 during that span.
"Offensively we have been good at times. Since the trade, over the last 35 games, since we've put everybody together, it hasn't been as good as we think it can. The biggest disappointment of the whole season is that section of time, that it took us this long to get it going," Mattingly said. "For whatever reason, it didn't get going. Then all of a sudden we started clicking. I never thought it would have taken this long."
The Dodgers are paying the price for their September struggles. They have no margin for error, which lessens the effect of their stellar play of the last week.
"This is fun. I love it," said Mattingly. "I wish we had a little more time."