I thought that I would respond to this walk-off loss with doom, gloom, and a deserved suicide watch by my family. But I'm strangely calm. Why?
Because we've won three division titles in four years. Because we've won a world championship. There are a lot of clubs that can't say that.
We simply weren't as ready for this postseason as we could have been. Vlad has a bum wing, GA decided to contract pinkeye, and an already-injured GMJ came up lame catching a flyball in his old stomping grounds. It sucks, yeah, and it hurts, but at least we got to the dance and we had a chance to take home the gold. The playoffs are a crapshoot, and the baseball gods don't look like they're willing to call our number this year.
The outlook for this series may be bleak, but the future looks very bright. Kendrick and Kotchman are still young. A healthy Howie is going to hit close to .400 at a usually offensively-weak position, and Kotch's doubles power will turn into out-of-the-park power as he gets older. A healthy Napoli and a more mature Mathis will give us a solid catching duo. I'm going to make acuda happy and say that Kendry gives us a good option at DH, and we mercifully have a glut at that spot with a healthy Johnny Rivers, provided he doesn't think about sliding into first again.
On the pitching side, Lackey is going to continue to mature and settle in as the staff ace. Jered Weaver is going to build upon a fairly solid sophomore campaign (when many prognosticators were predicting a disaster-filled 5-ERA season) and give us numbers worthy of a number-two pitcher in the third spot of the rotation. Saunders will mature as well and give us a solid lefty arm in the rotation.
And that's what we've got at the major league level. Brandon Wood will provide Glaus-like power (with better defense) at third sack. Terry Evans is going to provide us some pop at one of the corner outfield positions when GA retires and Vladdy makes the eventual move to DH. Nick Adenhart still has his arm attached.
The reality is that we were a few strikes and a foul-ball-caught-by-a-chowda-head away from taking a split series back to Anaheim. Scioscia took a rational gamble walking Ortiz to pitch to Manny, and sometimes gambles don't work out. That was the case tonight. That's baseball.
But at the end of the day, this is a club that will continue to contend for years to come. We are not the Phillies or Rockies, who arguably have this one opportunity to make it to the World Series before lapsing into another postseason drought. We're going to be playing October baseball in 2008, we're going to get another shot in the dance.
So like our good manager says, one game at a time. Look toward tomorrow, don't dwell on today, because tomorrow still looks promising no matter what happens during the rest of the series.