Manny Ramirez and Joe Torre got sent home by the Philadelphia Phillies. Again.
For the second straight season, the Los Angeles Dodgers swept through the first round of the playoffs only to get eliminated by the Phillies in a five-game NL championship series.
So forget about the Dodgers making their first trip to the World Series since winning the title in 1988 and a potentially delicious matchup of Torre vs. the Yankees.
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“I’m surprised. But again, you have to play better,” Torre said. “We have the capability, we have the talent, but that’s all well and good. It’s like having that good team on paper, you still have to go out there and play between the lines.
“The Phillies this year, we gave them, I think, a little harder tussle than last year, but they still were able to do what they did better than what we were able to do.”
Los Angeles was 56-32 at the All-Star break and finished an NL-best 95-67, earning home-field advantage in the first two rounds of the postseason. The Dodgers appeared set to compete with the Phillies.
But the Dodgers were outscored 35-16, compiling a miserable 7.38 ERA. Only one starter lasted beyond the sixth inning.
“The regular season doesn’t mean anything in the playoffs,” Ramirez said. “They got the hits when they needed to, and they won.”
Torre hasn’t found that World Series touch in Los Angeles, although he extended his streak of consecutive managerial playoff appearances to 14, tying the record set by Atlanta’s Bobby Cox from 1991-05.
When the Dodgers desperately sought a big-game ace, no one stood up.
After throwing 7 1-3 shutout innings in Game 2, Vicente Padilla was rocked for six runs – including two homers – in three-plus innings in Game 5. By the time he handed the ball to Torre, the Dodgers were trailing 5-2.
“We can’t always throw the ball where we want to,” Torre said. “But pitching is the only thing that can neutralize what they do.”
When the Dodgers needed a clutch hit, Ramirez was nowhere to be found, fitting given that he didn’t see Jonathan Broxton give up Jimmy Rollins‘ winning ninth-inning double in Game 4 on Monday night because he already was taking a shower.
Following a sub-par regular season interrupted a 50-game suspension imposed after he obtained a banned female fertility drug, Ramirez was 5 for 19 with one home run and two RBIs in the series against the Phillies. The homer was his only extra-base hit.
Not good enough for a player who holds the record for most career league championship series hits and homers.
“I think everybody did a great job,” Ramirez said. “Last year was a learning experience for a lot of players. They came back. They played great. But we didn’t come through this year. We were playing a better team.”
When asked why wasn’t swinging like his old slugging self, Ramirez patted a reporter on the shoulder, said, “That’s over,” and walked off.
Ramirez was among the glum Dodgers who shook former manager Tommy Lasorda’s hand in the clubhouse. Some players exchanged hugs and handshakes, others were silent as they packed their bags for the long plane ride home.
Orlando Hudson said the Dodgers pushed aside the crushing Game 4 loss and believed they could force a Game 6 back in California.
“It didn’t take the life out of us,” Hudson said. “We were still in here relaxed, having fun. You can’t play this game tensed up. We knew we only had to win one.”
Andre Ethier, James Loney and Hudson hit solo homers for the Dodgers. But Los Angeles was just 1 for 6 with runners in scoring position in the finale – and 7 for 36 (.194) in the series.
“It seemed like it got out of hand early,” third baseman Casey Blake said. “We had a couple of chances to do some damage and didn’t. They had a great night offensively. We couldn’t stop them.”
Los Angeles chased Cole Hamels in the fifth inning and closed to 6-3. But with two on and two outs, Ramirez fouled a pitch off his left shin on the second offering from Chad Durbin and appeared pained. With the count 2-2, Ramirez checked his swing and hit a roller back to the pitcher. Ramirez gingerly ran to first as he was retired.
“I feel great,” Ramirez said. “I accomplished everything I wanted to accomplish.”