Lopsided defeats aren't always bad omens
History shows teams frequently rebound from such losses
After watching his team get soundly beaten by the Phillies, 11-0, in Game 3 of the National League Championship Series on Sunday, Dodgers manager Joe Torre looked on the bright side of things.
Despite the loss, Los Angeles is behind only two games to one in the best-of-seven series and can tie things up with a win Monday night at Citizens Bank Park in Philadelphia.
A victory would mean the series would go at least six games, and Game 6 (as well as Game 7, if necessary) would be played at Dodger Stadium.
"You know, they scored 11 runs -- they only beat us once," Torre said. "So that's good news for us. You never want to get your rear end kicked, there's no doubt about it. But these games, you don't toss and turn wondering, 'If I had made this move or that move.' This is one you can put away a lot quicker even though it's a lot uglier than most."
In other words, a loss is a loss, regardless of the final score. And maybe the outcome wasn't so surprising. The Dodgers appeared to have a decided disadvantage in starting pitching on Sunday, when they sent Hiroki Kuroda -- who hadn't pitched since Sept. 28 because of a herniated disk in his neck -- against Phillies ace and 2008 AL Cy Young winner Cliff Lee.
"We never came close to winning this one," catcher Russell Martin said. "We'll forget about this one and get them tomorrow."
The Dodgers should be on more even footing on Monday night when the Dodgers go with veteran left-hander Randy Wolf against Phillies right-hander Joe Blanton. Wolf won 11 games with a 3.23 ERA this season. Blanton was 12-8 with a 4.05 ERA.
Lose the battle, win the war
|2009||3||PHI 11, LAD 0||TBD|
|2007||6||BOS 12, CLE 2||BOS|
|2004||3||NYY 19, BOS 8||BOS|
|2001||3||SEA 14, NYY 3||NYY|
|1999||3||BOS 13, NYY 1||NYY|
|1996||7||ATL 15, STL 0||ATL|
|1996||5||ATL 14, STL 0||ATL|
|1993||5||ATL 14, PHI 3||PHI|
|1985||4||STL 12, LAD 2||STL|
|1984||1||CHC 13, SD 0||SD|
|1983||3||BAL 11, CWS 1||BAL|
|1981||2||NYY 13, OAK 3||NYY|
|1974||4||LAD 12, PIT 1||LAD|
Kuroda was in trouble right away, allowing a two-run triple to Ryan Howard and a two-run homer to Jayson Werth in the first inning. Kuroda lasted only 1 1/3 innings, yielding six runs in what ultimately was the Dodgers' worst postseason loss in 50 years.
The Phillies recognized that they'd won just one game, hardly the series.
"You don't want to get ahead of yourself," Howard said. "Right now you worry about Game 4 and then hopefully take care of business in Game 5. Then you worry about the next opponent you face."
Teams have been pounded in LCS games before, and many of them have come back to either make it a series, or even win the series. The Red Sox did it three times, in 2004, 2007 and 2008.
In Game 3 of the 2004 ALCS, the Yankees beat the Red Sox 19-8 to take a commanding, never-before-blown 3-0 lead in the series. But Boston rallied in unprecedented fashion against New York to win the next four -- the first two at Fenway Park and the last two at Yankee Stadium -- and make history on their way to their first world championship since 1918.
The Red Sox did it again in the 2007 ALCS -- as did the Indians in the same series. After Boston won 10-3 in Game 1, Cleveland came back to take Game 2 by the score of 13-6. The Indians won the next two games, as well, taking a 3-1 series lead.
Boston recovered again, however, winning the final three games of the series by comfortable margins. Then they won the World Series in a sweep over the Rockies.
Last season, the Rays beat the Red Sox 9-1 and 13-4 in Games 3 and 4 at Fenway Park before Boston won the next two to force a Game 7, ultimately losing.
"We have been in there before and we know what it takes to win games," Red Sox slugger David Ortiz said after the Red Sox tied the series against the Rays. "It's not easy. It's not like we like to be in this situation, but I guess that's the way our destiny has been the past few years that we've won the World Series. It's hard, man. It's not an easy thing to do. You don't want to be [trailing 3-1]."
There are more examples involving other series and other teams. The Mets tied the 2006 NLCS at 2-2 by beating the Cardinals, 12-5, in Game 4 at St. Louis. But the Redbirds went on to win the series and beat the Tigers in the World Series for their first title since 1982.
In the 2003 NLCS, the Cubs defeated the Marlins, 12-3, in Game 2, then proceeded to take a 3-1 lead in the NLCS before Florida came back to advance to the World Series, where it defeated the Yankees in six games after New York had won Games 2 and 3 by 6-1 scores.
What about that lopsided Dodgers postseason loss a half-century ago? It occurred in Game 1 of the 1959 World Series, won by the White Sox, 11-0. The Dodgers won the next game, dropped Game 3, and then took three straight from Chicago to win the championship.
And there's more: The last two times the Dodgers have won the World Series, in 1988 and 1981, they fell behind two games to one in the NLCS.
They came back from that deficit in 1988 to beat the Mets in seven games, and in 1981 -- when the NLCS was a best-of-five -- they rebounded to win two straight against the Expos, winning Game 5 in Montreal on a ninth-inning home run by Rick Monday.
So take heed, Dodgers fans. It ain't over 'til it's over.
Bill Ladson is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.