ANAHEIM — The Dodgers were swept in a two-game series with the Angels but couldn’t get out of town without suffering a more significant loss.
Corey Seager will undergo an MRI on Wednesday but is headed to the Injured List with a left hamstring injury that could sideline the shortstop for weeks.
“The early kind of diagnosis is – I hesitate to even put a number on it but it’s kind of like a (Grade) 2-plus,” Dodgers manager Dave Roberts said. “What that means we’ll know more once he gets the test tomorrow, the MRI.
“Obviously very unfortunate. The way he’s been playing and what he means to our ballclub. As far as a timetable, we’ll know more tomorrow.”
Grade 2 hamstring strains typically require a four- to six-week recovery time.
Seager was on second base with no outs in the ninth inning of Tuesday’s 5-3 loss when Alex Verdugo singled through the middle. Seager was about to round third base and try to score when he pulled up and clutched at the back of his left leg. He immediately left the game.
“Just coming around third, it grabbed pretty good,” Seager said as he was leaving the clubhouse after the game. “Gonna get it checked out tomorrow, see where we’re at.
“Just kind of one bad step, I guess.”
Seager said he had no problems with his legs recently that would indicate this was building.
“I don’t tweak them every year but I do a lot to make sure they’re okay,” he said. “This one kind of came out of nowhere.”
After missing most of last season recovering from Tommy John surgery to his right elbow and arthroscopic surgery on his left hip, Seager had begun to regain his previous All-Star form recently. He was 3 for 4 with a walk Tuesday and was 17 for 37 (.459) with seven doubles and a home run in his past nine games. Since May 4, he was batting .331 (40 for 121) with 13 doubles, six home runs and 28 RBIs in 32 games.
“With what he’s done to overcome a couple surgeries this past year and get back into really good playing shape and really productive playing shape, I feel bad – we all feel bad – for Corey,” Roberts said. “We’ll know more and he’ll get back on the rehab trail and we’ll get him back as soon as possible.”
The Dodgers will likely activate utilityman Matt Beaty from the Injured List to take Seager’s spot on the roster. Chris Taylor will become their primary shortstop.
LOS ANGELES — You can send a good-riddance bouquet to Yu Darvish if you wish.
You can build the weirdest Erector set of reasons why Dave Roberts bollixed up the pitching.
In lieu of recognizing that the Dodgers lost the World Series to a better team.
You can wonder all winter why manifest destiny died in the glove of Yuli Gurriel, who took the final throw from Jose Altuve and disbelievingly put his hands on his head as the Houston Astros, who first were named the Colt .45s and played on a snake-infested field with mosquitos the size of backpacks, won the first World Series in their history.
But in the end you have to go back to Dodger trademarks that lost their adhesiveness and fell off, and Dodger habits that they somehow unlearned.
In the tough moments, the big blue offensive machine was taken apart by Houston pitching and never reassembled. With all those pieces on the ground, nothing else mattered.
Game 7 was the most cut-and-dried game of the series. There were no lead changes, no course corrections after Series MVP George Springer creamed a two-run home run off Darvish in the second inning for a 5-0 lead.
Yet Lance McCullers Jr. hit almost as many Dodgers as he did the targets from catcher Brian McCann, and he was gone in the third inning, with plenty of chances for the Dodgers to recover. They didn’t, and their clubhouse reeked of disbelief.
“I thought all day we were going to come in here to win,” catcher Austin Barnes said.
“We left everything we had on that field,” center fielder Chris Taylor said. “I think everyone in here is physically and mentally exhausted. Throughout the playoffs, there was no letup. We’re pretty spent right now. It’s a good time to get away from baseball for a while.”
Their season ended on the first day of November, less than three and a half months from when another one will begin. In boxing they say there is always a style waiting for you, a method to neutralize whatever you do. That seemed impossible after 104 regular-season wins, but the Astros had that secret sauce. It came from pitchers most Dodgers fans couldn’t have picked out of a Starbucks line.
Charlie Morton pitched the final four innings of Game 7 with 99 mph fastballs and great variety and precision. He held the Dodgers to five hits in 10⅓ innings overall, with 11 strikeouts.
Brad Peacock pitched 7⅓ innings against L.A. and gave up four hits.
The Dodgers managed to avoid losing to Justin Verlander and Dallas Keuchel. But Peacock finished them off in Game 3 and Morton in Game 7.
“Morton had that bowling-ball sinker,” Barnes said. “But when they got the five-run lead, sure, they were going to come right at us.”
“He threw me a lot of changeups,” Taylor said of Morton. “Curves and changeups and that heavy sinker, really tough at-bats.”
‘“I think they put the ball in the spots they wanted,” first baseman Cody Bellinger said. “They were aggressive and got ahead of us. We had guys on base, chances to do something, and couldn’t get the hit we needed.”
All season the Dodgers were finicky eaters at the plate. They stayed within the confines of their personal strike zones. They became annoying fouling machines in two-strike situations, and then teed off when pitchers gave in.
The Astros took the game back to where it lives, where pitchers put the burden on hitters. The Dodgers drew three walks per game and saw more pitches than Houston did. But Morton needed only 128 pitches to get his 31 outs in the Series.
“What I learned is that it’s not the regular season, and you have to make adjustments in-game if necessary,” Bellinger said. “And sometimes, different kinds of adjustments.”
Bellinger, who as usual faced more of the media music than any other Dodger, had a strange Series. He wound up striking out 17 times, which is a Series record, and 29 times for the postseason, which is also a record. He started the Series 0 for 13. But then he won Game 4 and did all he could to win Game 5, with a homer and a triple.
Seven games were long enough for Bellinger, as good a defender as either side had, to throw behind Darvish on Alex Bregman’s grounder, giving Houston a 1-0 lead in about three minutes. Bellinger wound up 4 for 28 for the Series and had plenty of company in misery.
Justin Turner, who was far from 100 percent physically, went 4 for 25 with 2 RBIs. Yasiel Puig was 4 for 27. Chris Taylor and Corey Seager were both 6 for 27.
Add it up and the Dodgers hit .205 for the Series and .200 with men in scoring position. More important, their on-base percentage was only .290.
And yet they will have trouble letting go of the very legitimate notion that they should have won the Series in five games.
They had a two-run lead in Game 2 going into the eighth inning before Houston laid waste to the bullpen, and they had three leads in that Mad Max of a Game 5 in Houston before Dave Roberts was reduced to using relievers who should have spent the night in the hammock.
“That’s probably what I’ll look back on, the two games we had a chance to win and didn’t,” Taylor said. “But I’m sure we won a couple of games you could say the same thing about.”
A few Dodgers were giving the “we had a great season” speech without convincing anyone, including themselves. The verge of victory is a more painful resting place than the periphery. Especially when you forget how you got there.
LOS ANGELES — His pursuit of postseason immortality lasted longer Friday than anyone would have dared dream.
Finally, Taijuan Walker buckled, striking out Curtis Granderson and ending his bid for an imperfect game.
Before that deflating development, the Dodgers were 4 for 4 with a walk against Arizona’s starter, who, let’s be honest, in Game 1 of this National League Division Series was more of a finisher.
By the time Walker was done – he lasted only one inning, one inning that required him to make 48 pitches en route to surrendering four runs – the Diamondbacks were done, too.
The Dodgers eventually won, 9-5, Arizona unable to overcome its early bottomless pit despite eventually hitting four homers off Clayton Kershaw, something that never before had happened to a Dodgers pitcher in the postseason.
For a team that will be dissatisfied closing with anything other than a World Series championship, the Dodgers certainly opened with a flourish, a game that lasted 3:37 essentially over in mere minutes.
“It’s just nice to jump on them early,” shortstop Corey Seager said. “It’s nice to get Game 1, get the momentum and move on from there.”
In an ideal world, Walker wouldn’t have been the Diamondbacks’ first choice to start this game. Or second choice.
No, in an ideal world, former Dodger Zack Greinke would have drawn this spot opposite Kershaw in a showdown of genuine No. 1s.
But, in an ideal world, Arizona wouldn’t wear uniforms that look like George Jetson’s pajamas, either.
As it was, Greinke started the game that brought the Diamondbacks here, their wild-card victory over Colorado.
Unfortunately for Arizona, Robbie Ray also was needed in that game in relief, leaving this start to Walker, who entered Friday without having as much as a winning regular-season record.
“That was a huge positive,” Seager said. “They had to throw their guys to advance. We got to heal up, rest and get ready.”
Walker was 9-9 in 2017 and, for his career, 31-31, the absolute picture – and, for that matter, pitcher – of mediocrity.
At age 25, he also was making his postseason debut, going up against a veteran who who has done just about everything in baseball except during October, a month that mostly has done onto him.
Still, having Kershaw in this matchup represented a monumental advantage for the Dodgers, one they seized so quickly and aggressively that they risked 50 simultaneous hamstring pulls.
“It’s hard to pitch to our lineup,” rookie Cody Bellinger said. “When we come out with a plan and we execute it, then good things happen.”
Loud things happen, too.
After Chris Taylor singled and Seager walked to start the bottom of the first, Justin Turner ripped a three-run homer estimated to have traveled 424 feet to left-center, holding his post-swing pose like a satisfied golfer.
It’s normally considered a bad sign for a starting pitcher to have more mound visits from a coach than outs recorded.
But suddenly, just three batters into the game, there was Arizona’s Mike Butcher, counseling Walker. Or perhaps just stalling, killing time hoping Dodger Stadium would stop swaying with raucous delight.
“That’s a big homer,” Dodgers manager Dave Roberts said. “Big homer. We had a great offensive night. Obviously, you feel pretty good when Clayton’s on the mound.”
Up 3-0, Bellinger followed with a single and then scored on a double by Yasiel Puig, igniting more noise, burying Walker and the Diamondbacks under even more decibels.
Upon reaching second, Puig, apparently caught up in the chaos he had just helped create, executed what I believe is known as a double crotch-chop.
I do know the NFL once fined Carson Palmer for making a similar gesture. I’m not sure, however, where baseball stands on the matter.
Let’s just all agree, though, that it’s probably not a bad thing that, by the time Puig was self chopping, it was already approaching 11 p.m. for television viewers on the East Coast.
It also was getting awfully late for Walker, who didn’t secure his first out until his 38th pitch. By comparison, Dodgers reliever Brandon Morrow later would get four outs on seven pitches.
Speaking of later, Puig punctuated a seventh-inning head-first slide on a triple by holding his mouth agape and wagging his tongue in the direction of the Dodgers’ dugout, a visual captured by cameras in graphic super slow-motion.
It was somewhat reminiscent of Michael Jordan’s famous tongue cameos, only with much more passion and far less grace.
For Dodgers fans, however, the moment was equally as signature, Puig and his teammates enjoying a playful romp over an opponent that, on this night especially, entered as overmatched and exited the same way.
“When I slide, that’s my reaction,” Puig explained. “I don’t know why. I feel maybe ice cream in front of me or something like that.”
Ice cream or a cream puff? Whatever, the Dodgers took full advantage and ate it up in Game 1.
What could be a long postseason feast started Friday with dessert.