When Don Mattingly put on a bizarrely happy face

Thearon W. Henderson

Last weekend, the Giants swept the Dodgers in what must have been excruciating fashion, as all three were one-run games and two were walk-off jobs. But it's the manager's job to stay upbeat, and especially when managing a (supposedly) contending team in May.

Still, you might be excused for wondering if Don Mattingly's Panglossian comments after Sunday's game when just a bit too far. Via Bill Shaikin in the L.A. Times:

"I really would like to sit here like I was all disappointed," Manager Don Mattingly said. "I'm not at all disappointed with the way we played."

That prompted one reporter to point out the Dodgers were two for 12 with runners in scoring position.

"Did you watch the game? Seriously? We were fine," Mattingly said. "I'll take those at-bats all day, every day. ... I can't be disappointed with the result. At some point, you ask guys to win battles, to win your at-bats. You can't control where it goes.

"We got runs late. We kept coming. I really can't sit here and be disappointed with anything but the loss."

Mattingly was not done.

"I feel better about our club walking out of here than I did walking in," he said.

Walking out after a sweep?

"I didn't think we were playing good [coming in]," he said. "I thought we played tough the whole series."

The Dodgers were not routed, not by any means. They lost by one run in all three games, by walk-off home runs Friday and Saturday.

They also had a hitters-only meeting Saturday, after which they produced season highs in runs and hits.

Well, that's really swell. You know, because all it takes to improve your hitting is a hitters-only meeting.

No, but I kid the hitters-only meetings because I love them. And I'm sure Mattingly's right. After all, the Dodgers did play decently enough against the Giants over the weekend. Well, not decently enough to actually win any of those games. But decently enough to have won something, against a team not quite as good or as lucky as the Giants were.

Hold on! Wait a second, something's coming over the wire from our friends in Bristol ...



Well, you know ... Trevor Cahill's a pretty good pitcher. I'm sure the Dodgers hitters will get right back on track Tuesday night, once that hitters-only meeting has had time to really sink in. Or not. These things are awfully hard to predict, but at least Mattingly's not going to keep running Luis Cruz and Justin Sellers out there ...

Look, what's ailed the Dodgers is pretty obvious: the left side of their infield has been abominable with the bats, two-thirds of their outfield hasn't hit much, and two-fifths of their pitching rotation's been ravaged by injuries.

The Dodgers will play better if they can ever get healthy and stay that way for a while. There aren't any guarantees there, of course. They might get Zack Greinke back one day and lose Clayton Kershaw the next. But there are good reasons to believe that Matt Kemp and Andre Ethier will come around, and that Hanley Ramirez will help once he's off the Disabled List. That still leaves the club with Juan Uribe or Luis Cruz at third base, but hey nobody's perfect.

For all their failures and their fundamental flaws, the Dodgers entered Tuesday just 5½ games out of first place, even after losing five straight games. It's way too early to panic, or fire your manager because he suggested that he felt better after getting swept than before. And you know, things could be a lot worse for the Dodgers.

They could be the Angels.

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