There are many steps to take and hurdles to leap over on the way to winning a World Series title. The Dodgers completed the first and longest of these last night as they beat the Orioles 7-3 and clinched the NL West for the 7th straight year.
With 16 games left in the season, the Dodgers still have a lot to play for. They need to clinch home-field advantage throughout the playoffs, a race in which they currently lead the Braves by 4 games but trail the Astros and Yankees by 1 game. Then once the season is complete, they need 11 wins in October.
But even with the goals set much higher than the division title, we can take some time to celebrate the Dodgers’ accomplishment.
The Dodgers practically clinched the division in the first inning when they jumped out to a 4-0 lead. It took just 4 batters before Cody Bellinger hit an RBI single to open the scoring. And then before you could blink, Corey Seager blasted a 3-run homer.
Two innings later, Seager came to the plate again with a man on and no outs. And what did he do? He homered again! This time he took advantage of the short corner in left field for a 2-run homer.
In the 5th inning, Gavin Lux finally checked off the home run box on his Major League bucket list. The 99 mph fastball didn’t both him as he drilled it into the seats in right-center field.
With all of this offense, the only thing the Dodgers needed was pitching. And they got it. Walker Buehler silenced the Orioles, going 7 innings and allowing just 4 hits, no runs or walks, and striking out 11 batters.
Once the game was over, it was finally time to celebrate. But the Dodgers didn’t charge onto the field and create a big screaming and leaping mob on the mound. Instead, they acted like they’d been there before (possibly because they have).
“Under the situation that we put ourselves in last year, this doesn’t seem as dramatic,” Dave Roberts said. “It was more subdued. It was kind of just of organic. It was one of those things where we expect it.”
“Even in ’18 coming into Spring Training, guys were pissed off. That necessarily doesn’t translate into wins, because you want to win regardless … but this is a group that we’ve fallen short two years in a row now, so we don’t want to be denied.”
“I wouldn’t say any of this is easy,” said Buehler. “That’s why we celebrate the way we do. When you are looking at 162 games, the fact we’ve stayed together the way we have, especially with some of the injuries we’ve had, is just a testament to who we are.”
With home-field advantage still left to play for, the Dodgers will send Ross Stripling back to the mound to face John Means. Stripling has a 4-4 record with a 3.42 ERA and Means is 10-10 with a 3.50 ERA. The game will begin at 4:05 pm.