Frustrated Dodgers fall to Reds, extend losing streak to five games (2024)


The Dodgers had to wake up early Sunday, after their 1:40 p.m. game against the Cincinnati Reds started 90 minutes early because of thunderstorms in the area.

The team’s bats, however, still looked asleep in a weather-delayed defeat at Great American Ball Park, with the Dodgers falling 4-1 to the Reds to suffer a weekend series sweep and their fifth loss in a row overall.

“It just seems like we’re running cold,” manager Dave Roberts said, peppered with a string of lineup questions that have become common in recent weeks.


“When you’re not hitting, it certainly seems lifeless,” Roberts added. “I know it’s not from care and preparation. But the bottom line is, it’s about results. And we’re not getting them right now.”

Not even close.

Instead, the Dodgers have endured their first five-game losing streak since 2019. They suffered their first series sweep since last June.


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And, in what has been a recurring theme during the team’s extended two-week slide (they are 7-9 in their last 16 games), the offense remained the club’s biggest weakness, managing just five hits in a game that was delayed for an hour before the sixth inning by rain.

“It’s still a really good lineup, and we know it’s gonna flip,” second baseman Gavin Lux said. “But yeah, I think we all expect more out of ourselves. I think everyone does.”

Even before Sunday’s first pitch — which was moved up to 12:10 p.m. local time to avoid impending storms — Roberts was bemoaning his lineup’s recent slump, struggling in his pregame address with reporters to reconcile how a team so talented could look so listless at the plate.

“I think it’s lack of consistency of approach,” Roberts said. “We’re trying to cover too many parts of the zone, in my opinion, and we’re missing the fastball. I think that’s the crux.”

Indeed, the fastball has been the Dodgers’ most puzzling problem lately.

Entering Sunday, the club was batting just .197 against four-seamers since May 10 (fifth-worst in the majors during that span), had whiffed on 27% of them (second-worst in the majors) and were missing myriad opportunities where the pitch “should be moved forward,” as Roberts put it.

“They let us know,” Freeman said, noting that the team’s trouble against fastballs was a topic in hitters meetings this weekend. “So we’ll try and get on the heater tomorrow.”

Frustrated Dodgers fall to Reds, extend losing streak to five games (2)

The Dodgers’ Shohei Ohtani stands in the dugout after grounding out during the fourth inning against the Cincinnati Reds on Sunday.

(Jeff Dean / Associated Press)

Yet, in a game that saw the Dodgers (33-22) get shut out until the ninth inning Sunday, things only got worse.

Of the 28 four-seamers Reds pitcher threw in the zone, the Dodgers took 10 for strikes, fouled nine off, whiffed on five and hit four into routine outs.

Not one was turned into a hit. Not once did they punish a mistake over the middle.

“When you get a good pitch to hit,” Roberts said, “you gotta hit them.”

Couple that issue with the absence of Max Muncy (who is continuing to battle an oblique strain), a less than 100% Shohei Ohtani (who has been nursing a hamstring bruise) and almost no consistent production from the bottom of the lineup (their Nos. 6-9 hitters have batted an MLB-worst .148 the past 16 games, and were 0 for 12 on Sunday), and the Dodgers’ juggernaut offense has suddenly looked more Jello-ish in construction.


Soft. Flimsy. And lacking much consistency.

“You can’t miss balls at the belt and chase below also,” Roberts said, noting his team’s penchant to make outs on pitches out of the strike zone, as well, in recent weeks. “Bad combo.”

The Reds (23-30) took the lead Sunday with the kind of rally that has eluded the Dodgers recently.

In the third inning, Cincinnati scored four runs off Dodgers starter Yoshinobu Yamamoto on four hits and one walk. Three of the knocks came with two strikes. All four runs scored with two outs. Roberts sounded almost envious as he recounted the sequence postgame.


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“The bottom line is that they found a way to fight with two strikes,” Roberts said. “When you fight, you get those breaks sometimes.”

The Dodgers, on the other hand, had no such luck.

In 28 at-bats between a first-inning single from Mookie Betts and a ninth-inning single from Ohtani, the Dodgers recorded just two hits — a pair of doubles by Teoscar Hernández in the fourth and seventh innings.

Both times, however, the team left Hernández stranded. And up until Freeman’s RBI double in the ninth, the club was not only 0 for five with runners in scoring position on Sunday (they finished one for eight), but had gone hitless in 22 straight at-bats with a runner at second or third base.


During this 16-game stretch, the Dodgers have batted just .189 with runners in scoring position in all.

“Obviously, we want to score as many runs as we possibly can, and we haven’t been doing that the last few games,” Freeman said. “You never know which at-bat is gonna break it open. Hopefully that [ninth-inning RBI] was the one.”

Freeman was the latest team member to downplay the team’s recent struggles at the plate, insisting that such slumps are inevitable over a 162-game season, and that confidence in the clubhouse hasn’t wavered.

Frustrated Dodgers fall to Reds, extend losing streak to five games (4)


“I don’t think anybody needs to question the confidence in our lineup,” Freeman said. “It’s mid-May, we’ll be fine.”

Still, since the start of this slide on May 10, the Dodgers are now batting .210 as a team (third-worst in the majors during that span), have 14 home runs (tied for 10th-fewest) and are averaging just 3.5 runs per game (a sharp decline from the 5.5 per game they were averaging previously).

It hasn’t yet hurt their overall numbers on the year yet. They are still second in the majors in both runs and OPS, and sixth in batting average. They also remain safely in first place in the National League West, holding the second-largest division lead in MLB with a 5½ game edge over the San Francisco Giants.

Nonetheless, when Roberts was asked if the recent malaise has come as a surprise to him, given the obvious talent on his $300-million roster, the manager softly nodded his head.


“It does, it does,” Roberts said. “It’s guys needing to be better. I mean, that part of it is simple. The execution part of it is harder. But having a plan and being consistent, that’s easy. It is. It really is.”

The Dodgers’ performance lately, however, has suggested otherwise, leading to the kind of exasperating, extended lull to which their star-studded offense was supposed to be immune.

Words for Ramírez

There was an unusual sequence near the end of Sunday’s game, after Dodgers reliever Yohan Ramírez — who hit two batters in a disastrous outing Friday — plunked two more hitters during an appearance in the eighth inning.

While Roberts came to the mound after Ramírez’s second hit batter, the manager didn’t remove the veteran right-hander from the game.

Instead, Roberts put his arms around Ramírez — a journeyman right-hander already on his third team this season — and spoke into his ear for several moments. Then, he let Ramírez stay in the game and escape a bases-loaded jam with a fly out in his next at-bat.

“He’s emotional and cares, and he’s trying to impress with a new ballclub,” Roberts said. “I just tried to reassure him and give him some confidence, love on him a little bit, and try to take a little bit of pressure off.”


“You just see the player, and you kind of feel what he’s got going on in his brain, in his heart, all that stuff,” Roberts added. “Sometimes I’m sure — I’ve never thrown a major league inning — but you feel like you’re on an island. So I wanted to show that we were all behind him.”

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Frustrated Dodgers fall to Reds, extend losing streak to five games (2024)


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