These last two games are a vivid demonstration that Manny by himself isn't going to turn the Dodgers into a good team, now matter how well he plays. I guess I knew that all along, but I was willing to pretend otherwise after the split with the Snakes last weekend. In the wake of Manny-mania I was eager to ignore the sober math that he is only likely to improve the Dodger win total by a modest one or two in his two months with the team. I put my faith in momentum and psychology. He will make everyone better, I thought. No, I felt it. There was no thinking. I might as well have put my faith in magic.
Manny doesn't make the weaknesses of this 0.500 team go away. He got on base four times Tuesday, but was only driven in once. The lineup has too many holes in it, still. That could change, if Furcal came back at full health, and Kent started hitting again, and Pierre and Jones were both permanently exiled to the bench. I don't think it's an awful offense now, and Manny truly does make it better, but he can't do it all. He can't hit a home run every game.
Manny did hit a home run Wednesday, and drove in another run with a two-out single, and for the brief time when the Dodgers led 3-1 I thought that Manny hitting a home run was a sign that the Dodgers would win. But the starting pitching is still awful on the road. Lowe quickly turned the 3-1 lead into a 3-7 deficit. Billingsley is the only functional starter the Dodgers have away from home, and he ran into his own personal kryptonite, the rain delay, in his shortened start Tuesday. The Dodgers have a lot of road games left, against some very tough teams. If they don't start getting more solid starting performances they aren't going to catch the Snakes.
Maybe the Dodgers just have to take their usual lumps in St. Louis and move on. They're still only 2.5 games out. Nevertheless I feel the season slipping away. The Dodgers margin for error is narrowing. If the Dodgers keep struggling on the road then their only hope will be to sweep the Snakes when they play again.