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One victory can change everything for the Dodgers

At AT&T Park, Clayton Kershaw has enjoyed himself, and Sunday was no exception.

The Los Angeles Dodgers can’t hit, can’t pitch, or can’t field in 2018, and it is time to panic as the Internet read after Saturday’s 7-5 14-inning loss to the San Francisco Giants.

I beg to differ. Yes, the Dodgers have their worst beginning to a regular season since 1976, but it was only eight games into the 162-game schedule. Baseball’s regular season is a marathon. Every team will have ups and downs during the season. Everything is magnified at the beginning.

Of course, I have been disappointed how the Dodgers have performed so far in 2018. Who hasn’t?

The players want to succeed to return to the World Series and win. Obviously, they have been trying too hard to succeed, and this usually ends in disaster in baseball. The 2018 Dodgers haven’t been an exception.

Sunday afternoon the Dodgers ended an abysmal road trip with a much needed 10-inning 2-1 victory over the Giants. This probably will signal a good streak for them, and this is needed to restore faith in their ability to win. Fans and journalists need to stop criticizing and begin to believe in the Dodgers again.

I know watching the Houston Astros shut out the Dodgers in Game 7 of the 2017 World Series was terrible. I couldn’t sleep well for a week after that disappointment. It was easy to say if Dave Roberts did this or that; the Dodgers probably would have won their first world championship in 29 years. In baseball as in life, we analyze our past to death, if we did this or that, we would have achieved more. Nevertheless, analyzing our past doesn’t help us much, except for learning to not make the same mistakes.

Many Dodger fans couldn’t wait until the 2018 season to start. They hoped the Dodgers would recapture the same magic and excitement as they had in 2017. Although they have virtually the same team this year as last, they haven’t had the same intensity as in 2017 yet. The just-completed road trip when the Dodgers had four losses and one victory saw them lose two heartbreaking extra-inning games where the Dodgers had the lead in the top of the inning.

Sunday the Dodgers erased unpleasant memories. Yes, they didn’t score much. They let the Giants tie them in the eighth. While pitching the tenth, Kenley Jansen allowed Hunter Pence to reach base, making the situation a little more anxious than it should have been. But, for the first time this year, the Dodgers resembled the team in 2017.

Entering the game, Clayton Kershaw had a 1.30 ERA at AT&T Park, the third-lowest ERA there among pitchers with a minimum of ten starts. For the first time this season, he had all his pitches working. In his seven innings, he struck out six Giants while walking no one. He didn’t allow a solo home run for the first time this year. In the eighth, he ran into trouble even though the Giants didn’t hit the ball hard. Roberts lifted him when Buster Posey, whose batting average against Kershaw is .238, was pinch-hitting. Posey, one of the elite hitters in baseball, doubled in the tying run.

However, TJ Chargois and Tony Cingrani pitched well during the eighth inning. In the ninth, Josh Fields was brilliant.

Cody Bellinger, who played Saturday afternoon with food poisoning, opened the tenth with an opposite-field double. Kyle Farmer, who probably wouldn’t have been on the Opening Day roster if Justin Turner didn’t fracture his wrist, broke the tie.

Roberts is still learning who he can rely on in the bullpen. He doesn’t have a contract for 2019, so everything he does is magnified. Andrew Friedman and Farhan Zaidi should rectify the situation immediately, lessening the stress on Roberts. After all, Roberts in his rookie year as a Dodger manager led his team with countless injuries to the NLCS and earned the NL Manager of the Year. In 2017, for the first time since 1988, Roberts led the Dodgers, who had the most wins in franchise history, to the World Series.

Although it’s early, Sunday’s victory should lessen the pressure on the Dodgers. Fans and journalists need to exercise their patience with the team instead of criticizing everything and panicking.