The smile disappeared from the face of Rafael Furcal, who repeatedly shook his head when asked about his season.
“Bad year,” he said. “Ugly year.”
Even after the Dodgers beat the Colorado Rockies, 9-7, on Tuesday at Coors Field, they remained four games under .500.
That means Furcal will miss the postseason for only the second time in his 11-year major-league career, the first six of which were spent with the Atlanta Braves.
“I’ve become used to it after all those years in the playoffs,” Furcal said. “To not be there feels different.”
The only other time he found himself in this predicament was in 2007, which was also with the Dodgers.
This season was as trying for Furcal personally as it was for the Dodgers collectively.
He was out for most of May because of a strained left hamstring and missed nearly the entire month of August because of lower back pain.
The disruptions made it difficult for him to maintain a sense of rhythm at the plate, he said. He was batting .316 when he landed on the disabled list for the second time, on Aug. 3. He has hit .240 in 20 games since returning.
Furcal, who was two for five with two triples, two runs and two runs batted in Tuesday, is hitting .301 for the season.
“When you’re coming in and out, it’s hard to play at the same level of intensity,” he said. “At the beginning and the middle of the season when I was playing, I felt sure of myself. But after losing a month here, a month there, I might have tried to do too much. I would like to think that my presence would have helped the team.”
But if there was any positive news for Furcal, it’s that it appears the back he had surgically repaired in 2008 is holding up. He has stolen four bases in his last 20 games, increasing his season total to 22, the most he has had since 2007.
“I’m not afraid,” he said. “I was already hurt. If I get hurt, I get hurt. I can’t play any other way. That’s how I play.”
But Furcal said he would take it easy this off-season and that he is unlikely to play winter ball in the Dominican Republic.
Jansen grows up
Rookie Kenley Jansen didn’t have his best stuff and it showed. He walked Seth Smith, then Chris Iannetta to push in a run for the Rockies to shrink the Dodgers’ lead to a run.
But Jansen recovered to record the first four-out save of his infant career and officially eliminate the Rockies from playoff contention.
“I always stay calm,” said Jansen, a former catching prospect who started pitching only a year ago. “My mind-set is that I’m the best one out there. You’re not going to hit me.”
Casey Blake followed up his big night Monday with another big night, hitting two of the Dodgers’ four home runs. Blake’s second homer, which came in the top of the ninth inning, doubled the Dodgers’ lead.
With the Rockies no longer in contention, Clayton Kershaw has been scratched from his Wednesday start and shut down for the season. “He’s pitched enough innings,” Manager Joe Torre said of the 22-year-old left-hander, who has pitched 2041/3 innings.