CLEVELAND – When the national spotlight turns on, the Los Angeles Dodgers go dark.
They’re lucky this one doesn’t count.
Clayton Kershaw dropped to 0-2 in All-Star Games, and so did Dave Roberts.
“You always want to win every game you play, but the American League has had our number for quite some time, so hopefully we can get them next year,” Roberts said after the National League’s 4-3 loss in the All-Star Game on Tuesday night, making it sound more significant than most participants treat it. “They took one more one better swing than we did.”
Maybe someday Roberts will get to celebrate on the national stage as Dodgers manager in the same way he did as a Boston Red Sox player.
Falling short has gotten familiar.
Kershaw gave up Michael Brantley’s go-ahead double in the second inning, following his 2015 defeat when he gave up a tiebreaking single to Prince Fielder at Cincinnati followed by Lorenzo Cain’s RBI double.
Walker Buehler allowed Jorge Polanco’s run-scoring single that put the NL ahead 2-0 in the fifth.
While NL starter Hyun-Jin Ryu stranded a runner on third base in a scoreless first, Cody Bellinger struck out against Masahiro Tanaka and Lucas Giolito. Bellinger’s most significant contribution was his part in “The Belli and Yeli Show” during the second inning, a running conversation between Bellinger and Christian Yelich of Milwaukee that was miked for Fox’s broadcast.
Bellinger spoke from right field and Yelich from left.
“I don’t even know who’s talking,” Bellinger said at first, not recognizing Yelich’s voice.
Yelich recalled Bellinger’s home run in Game 7 of last year’s NL Championship Series win over the Brewers.
“My bad. My bad,” Bellinger said playfully.
“Well, what are you going to do? It was fun to watch,” Yelich replied.
Just like last year in Washington, D.C., Roberts never got to enjoy an All-Star lead.
“But you know what? It was great to see all the talent, the stars, and I enjoyed the experience,” Roberts said
Sure, this was the All-Star Game, a night to strut and shine. But it followed flops in the Series for a franchise without a title since 1988.
Running away from the rest of the NL West leaves the Dodgers with comparatively little pressure to prepare them for the crucible of October. Los Angeles is a major league-best 60-32 and leads second-place San Diego 13 1/2 games. Might as well start printing the playoff tickets now.
“You try to set goals and to have the best record in the National League and in baseball, I think that’s something that we’re striving for,” he said.
Home-field advantage throughout the postseason didn’t help in 2017. After winning a major league-high 104 games and breezing by Arizona and the Chicago Cubs in the playoffs, the Dodgers lost Game 7 to Houston when Yu Darvish gave up five runs in the first two innings.
They won their sixth straight NL West title last year, by just one game over Colorado after winning 92 games, and lost the Series to the Red Sox in five games.
“Playing every game that it’s life and death, that was tough,” Roberts said. “We dug ourselves a hole last year, but fortunately we got at the gates this year quite a bit better. So you do have that luxury to rest players, but you still want to win every game.”
Asked which he liked better, Roberts didn’t hesitate.
“I’ll take this year,” he said.
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