The Los Angeles Dodgers have secured their 10th consecutive playoff appearance and now look to move closer to clinching the National League West when they face the Arizona Diamondbacks on Monday night at Phoenix.
The Dodgers (96-43) have a magic number of two to clinch the division title due to their 20-game lead over the second-place San Diego Padres. They could wrap up the NL West as soon as Tuesday.
Los Angeles became the first team to clinch a playoff berth this season when they routed the Padres 11-2 on Sunday.
Veteran third baseman Justin Turner hit two homers — one a grand slam — and drove in five runs. He is part of a postseason team for the ninth straight season, something he highly appreciates.
“I don’t think it’s anything you can take for granted,” Turner said. “I’ve been on some teams early in my career that didn’t have this opportunity, so I definitely feel fortunate to be a part of an organization that cares about winning and puts winning first.”
There wasn’t a big celebration after Sunday’s clinching. Part of that is due to how early the club wrapped up a playoff berth, and another factor is Los Angeles’ aspirations are much higher.
“It’s kind of who we are. It’s a very smart group, it’s a very focused group,” Dodgers manager Dave Roberts said afterward. “We have a long way to go to accomplish our goal. We kind of understand that if you look at yourself as a ballclub and set a certain standard of play, then it allows you to kind of reach that and realize those goals.
“It’s pretty easy for us, and we don’t care about the standings. We just want to play good baseball.”
The Dodgers have won six of their past eight games entering the three-game set against the Diamondbacks.
Arizona (66-73) halted a four-game slide when it notched a 12-6 triumph over the host Colorado Rockies on Sunday.
Zac Gallen started the contest with three flawless innings to set a franchise record of 44 1/3 consecutive scoreless innings. He surpassed franchise legend Brandon Webb (42 in 2007). The scoreless streak ended on C.J. Cron’s RBI single in the bottom of the fourth inning. Gallen (12-2) wound up pitching six innings, giving up three runs, and was the winning pitcher.
At the plate, Jake McCarthy continued his strong recent play with four hits and three RBIs. He went 8-for-13 in the three-game series and is batting .395 (17-for-43) with four homers and 16 RBIs over his last 11 appearances.
“He’s locked in. He’s in a good spot,” Diamondbacks manager Torey Lovullo told reporters. “He’s 4-for-6 and big hits, big knocks. He just doesn’t let up, he’s got an unbelievable mentality, and he’s been very impressive.”
Arizona right-hander Ryne Nelson (1-0, 0.00 ERA) will make his second career start, and the second-round pick in 2019 was superb the first time he stepped on a major league mound.
Nelson, 24, blanked the Padres on four hits over seven scoreless innings. He struck out seven and walked none during an 87-pitch effort.
Perhaps making Nelson’s performance more stunning is this fact: He had a shaky 5.43 ERA in 26 starts at Triple-A Reno while compiling a 10-5 record.
Dodgers left-hander Tyler Anderson (14-3, 2.73) defeated the San Francisco Giants in his last turn to halt a four-start winless stretch in which he went 0-2. The 32-year-old gave up three runs and eight hits over seven innings.
Anderson is 2-0 with a 1.38 ERA in two starts against Arizona this season. He has struck out 13 in 13 innings while walking just one.
Anderson is 5-3 with a 5.22 ERA in 16 career appearances (14 starts) vs. the Diamondbacks. He has served up 10 homers in 81 innings.
Ketel Marte (10-for-23, two homers) and Christian Walker (7-for-21, one homer) have fared well against Anderson.
–Field Level Media