The clouds finally parted. The rain finally stopped. And for the first time this month, the Dodgers finally won a series, outlasting the Washington Nationals 7-3 on Sunday in yet another rain-delayed contest at Nationals Park.
Now, the team can only hope the forecast for the rest of their season can clear up.
While the Dodgers managed a 3-3 record during this week’s trip, bouncing back from a series loss to the Miami Marlins by salvaging a Sunday rubber match that trimmed their magic number to clinch the National League West to seven, they will return home Monday in a much different place than they left.
Since their last homestand, the Dodgers have been weathering storms on and off the field.
Opening day starter Julio Urías is on administrative leave, following his arrest on suspicion of felony domestic violence last week.
The team knows it won’t see the return of Walker Buehler before the end of the season, announcing Friday he won’t be recovered from Tommy John surgery in time for the postseason push.
And the club is facing myriad other question marks as it closes in on another postseason run — none bigger than recent struggles from Clayton Kershaw.
That last topic resurfaced following Sunday’s game, when manager Dave Roberts announced that Kershaw’s next start was pushed back from Monday to Friday.
While Roberts said earlier this week that Kershaw has been dealing with lingering effects from a shoulder injury he sustained earlier this year — the most notable one, a sudden drop recently in fastball velocity — the manager insisted Sunday the decision to push back his start was not related to the left-hander’s health.
Instead, Roberts claimed the Dodgers were trying to “set things up down the road” with their rotation schedule, while also acknowledging that the extra rest — Kershaw will now have nine days off between starts — couldn’t hurt.
“If we’re weighing everything in, it just made the most sense,” Roberts said. “There’s no downside to what we’re doing. That’s kind of the thought.”
If all that wasn’t enough to signal the grim state of the team, then the rainy weather in Washington — which caused delays in all three games of the series — was a symbolic reminder.
“There’s a lot of things up in the air that we didn’t expect,” Roberts said flatly this weekend when asked about the club’s recent turn of unforeseen events. “I think it’s just trying to manage each of them separately.”
On Sunday, that meant piecing together a pitching plan in a contest that was delayed almost an hour by rain in the middle of the fifth inning.
Left-handed swingman Ryan Yarbrough got the start just days after the birth of his second child, providing four solid innings while giving up two runs on five hits and striking out five.
Yarbrough’s daughter was born Friday afternoon, with the pitcher staying back in his native Florida following the Marlins series before rejoining the team Saturday night. Yarbrough was headed back to Florida postgame Sunday to spend a couple more days with his family. He will be rejoining the teamnext weekend in Seattle.
“[It was] pretty crazy,” Yarbrough said of pitching barely 48 hours after the birth of his daughter. “It really worked out just being in Miami, being over here pretty close to being home. It was time. Really exciting.”
While the Dodgers’ offense was able to provide seven runs of support in Yarbrough’s start — keyed by two RBIs from Jason Heyward and four hits from Miguel Rojas — they had to do so after suffering yet another injury. David Peralta was hit by a pitch in his left elbow during the second inning.
Roberts said Peralta had a postgame X-ray that was negative, and that they’ll re-evaluate how he is feeling when they get home.
“Right when I saw it, I saw seams on the elbow, immediate swelling,” Roberts said. “Then after that, from what I hear, the swelling has dissipated. We’ll see if he’s in there tomorrow, but he said he feels pretty good.”
One thing Roberts and his players have echoed this week: The need to block out all the distractions that have quickly descended upon their campaign, and rediscover top form between now and October.
“Trying to block out all the distractions from outside of the clubhouse and try to keep everything on our side, it’s a hard test,” Rojas said. “But we’re looking forward to the challenge.”
Added Roberts: “I feel great, considering what we came into, starting the road trip with all the circumstances we had to deal with. I felt that we did a nice job of being professional, focused on winning baseball games, playing good, clean baseball, which I think we did for the most part.”