Staring into the swarm of cameras that circled his locker, Andre Ethier clenched his jaw.
“I think you guys are getting off the point here,” he said.
Ethier had been asked about his heated exchange with Manager Don Mattingly in the third inning of the Dodgers’ season-ending 3-2 defeat to the New York Mets on Thursday night.
“Did that have a bearing on this game being won or lost?” Ethier asked. “It didn’t. The point is we lost the game.”
And now the Mets — and not the Dodgers — are advancing to the National League Championship Series to take on the Chicago Cubs.
The consequences of losing Game 5 of this NL division series was frustrating enough for Ethier, with or without the questions about his blowup in the dugout.
The Dodgers were under new management and their record payroll increased to more than $300 million, but the results were the same.
Ethier was here last year, when the Dodgers were eliminated by the St. Louis Cardinals in the same round. He was also here the year before that, when they were bounced by the Cardinals in the NLCS.
“That part definitely gets old,” Ethier said.
The refrain could be heard in every part of the clubhouse, with everyone from first baseman Adrian Gonzalez to closer Kenley Jansen saying something similar.
If their two previous eliminations were shocking — Clayton Kershaw had uncharacteristic meltdowns in the elimination games — what happened Thursday was downright upsetting.
“We beat ourselves,” Jansen said.
They beat themselves by failing to score after the first inning. They beat themselves by having a lapse in concentration that resulted in the second of three runs the Mets scored against Zack Greinke.
Jacob deGrom clearly wasn’t the same pitcher he was in Game 1, when he outpitched Kershaw in a Mets victory.
The Dodgers erased a 1-0 deficit by scoring twice in the bottom of the first inning on consecutive singles by Corey Seager, Gonzalez, Justin Turner and Ethier.
They had several chances to extend their 2-1 lead, but never did.
They had runners on first and second base with one out in the second inning, only for Seager and Gonzalez to strike out.
Turner led off the third inning with a double and, again, the Dodgers failed to score.
Ethier recorded the first out of the inning by flying out to left field, after which he and Mattingly exchanged words. At one point, Ethier shouted as he pointed at his manager.
Mattingly later said Ethier was upset by a call by home plate umpire Gary Cederstrom. “I was trying to settle him down,” Mattingly said.
The inning ended with Enrique Hernandez grounding into a double play with runners on the corners.
The Dodgers paid for their offensive failures in the fourth inning.
Greinke gave up a leadoff single to Daniel Murphy, then walked Lucas Duda with one out. When Murphy reached second base, he noticed third base was uncovered because the Dodgers had shifted to the right against the left-handed hitting Duda. Murphy bolted for third base as Greinke, who was looking down, received the ball from catcher Yasmani Grandal.
“When you play a shift like that, you put yourself vulnerable to things like that,” Gonzalez said. “We weren’t heads-up. That ended up being the difference in the game. It’s something you can’t let happen in a game this big, this magnitude. It was probably one of the biggest reasons we lost.”
Murphy scored on a sacrifice fly by Travid d’Arnaud and the game was level, 2-2.
The Dodgers had a runner in scoring position again in the bottom of the fourth and fifth innings. In both innings, the runner was stranded.
The Mets scored what would be the series-deciding run in the sixth inning, when Murphy blasted a home run into the right-field corner.
Greinke pitched 62/3 innings and was charged with three runs and six hits.
DeGrom lasted six innings and limited the Dodgers to two runs and six hits. Game 2 starter Noah Syndergaard pitched a scoreless seventh inning, setting up a six-out save for closer Jeurys Familia.
The Dodgers finished the game two for 13 with runners in scoring position.
“Speaks for itself,” Ethier said.
Ethier looked down and shook his head.
“We got out-executed by the other team tonight,” he said. “That’s why they’re moving on.”
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