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Dodgers Face Tough Test; Will Offense Respond?

The Dodgers trail the Cardinals by one game for the second wild card spot in the National League.

Sept.13, 2012; Los Angeles, CA, USA;  Los Angeles Dodgers first baseman Adrian Gonzalez (23) in the dugout during the game against the St. Louis Cardinals at Dodger Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jayne Kamin-Oncea-US PRESSWIRE
Sept.13, 2012; Los Angeles, CA, USA; Los Angeles Dodgers first baseman Adrian Gonzalez (23) in the dugout during the game against the St. Louis Cardinals at Dodger Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jayne Kamin-Oncea-US PRESSWIRE

The Los Angeles Dodgers are in a precarious position with roughly two weeks left in the regular season. But despite stumbling down the stretch, an underwhelming offense and their pitchers dropping like flies, the Dodgers still have a great opportunity to turn things around.

But it won't be easy.

The Dodgers just split a four-game series at home against the St. Louis Cardinals, who lead them by one game in the battle for the second wild card in the National League. But the Dodgers' schedule gets harder with their nine-game road trip starting Tuesday night. They open a three-game series against the Washington Nationals, owners of baseball's best record, then follow that up with a weekend tilt against the Cincinnati Reds, who have the second best record in the National League.

National League Wild Card Standings
Team W-L Pct GB
Atlanta 85-63 .574 +7½
St. Louis 77-70 .524 ---
Los Angeles 76-71 .517 1
Milwaukee 74-72 .507
Pittsburgh 74-72 .507
Philadelphia 74-74 .500

To top it off, Tuesday is the day the Dodgers find out the fate of ace Clayton Kershaw, who is battling a hip condition that may or may not require surgery. With Kershaw the Dodgers face a tough test, but without him the task seems downright impossible.

But it doesn't really matter who pitches for the Dodgers if they don't score any runs.

Since adding Adrian Gonzalez in their nine-player blockbuster trade with the Boston Red Sox on Aug. 25, the Dodgers have pretty much had a set lineup. The regular eight position players have started 158 of a possible 168 games since the trade, but the production has left a lot to be desired.

In their last 21 games, the Dodgers have scored 66 runs, an average of 3.14 per game, hitting just .233/.302/.354 as a team. Last week, the starting eight position players hit a collective .188/.219/.318 as the Dodgers lost four of their six games. For instance:

Adrian Gonzalez has hit .233/.287/.372 in 21 games.

Shane Victorino has hit .234/.303/.311 in 41 games.

Hanley Ramirez has hit .200 (nine hits in 45 at-bats) since his last home run.

Matt Kemp has six hits in 53 at-bats (.113) since running into the center field wall at Coors Field, which gave him a right knee contusion, plus inflammation and a frayed labrum in his left shoulder.

With that poor offense the Dodgers have lost eight of 11 and 13 of their last 21 games, and yet they are still just one game out of that last wild card spot.

The road is about to get harder but the Dodgers still have an attainable goal. In spite of themselves, it seems.

For more news and notes on the Dodgers, be sure to read True Blue LA.