On June 26, 2016, the Dodgers found themselves 8 games behind the Giants for first place. Clayton Kershaw had just lost to Chad Khul in a 3-4 game. 4 days later, on June 30, Kershaw was placed on the 15-day disabled list, he was later transferred to the 60-day DL, and was on for more than 2 months.
Even though it seemed impossible, the Dodgers clawed and scratched and bit their way to 6.5 games behind the Giants. They stayed there for what felt like forever, until the All-star break. Even though he was unable to play, Clayton Kershaw was voted to the NL All-Star team. After the All-star game, the Giants had the worst record in baseball, allowing the Dodgers to slowly fight their way back to first place. On August 9th the Dodgers did just that. On his bobblehead night, Howie Kendrick homered and the Dodgers took first place.
After losing first place the next day and losing a 3 game series to the Pirates, the Dodgers were once again trailing San Francisco. After the series with the Pirates, the Dodgers received a travel day as they headed to Philadelphia, to play the Phillies. On the travel day, the Giants lost and the difference was 0.5 games. The Dodgers took first place back on August 16, in Philadelphia when Chase Utley tormented his former club. He went 2-4, but hit 2 home runs, including a Grand Slam. The Dodgers won game 2 of the series, but lost game 3.
After Philadelphia, it was time to head to Cincinnati to face Reds. The Reds won the first and second games, but Julio Urias shut them down on his 20th birthday. The final game of the series was a very wild one, Adrian Gonzalez hit 3 homers, Andrew Toles and Rob Segedin both hit their first, and Corey Seager tied the franchise records for home runs by a rookie, and Yasmani Grandal hit a solo shot of his own. The Dodgers won the game 18-9, and hit 7 home runs.
The Dodgers returned home for a very important series against the Giants. The Dodgers had a 1 game lead over San Francisco, which is a very small lead. The Giants sent out Madison Bumgarner to pitch against Kenta Maeda. Corey Seager went 3-4 and scored 3 times as the Dodgers took the first game from the Giants. In game 2, Rich Hill made his Dodgers debut by tossing 6 shutout innings, allowing only 5 hits. Justin Turner hit a solo home run off of Johnny Cueto, which proved to be the difference in the game. This was also a sad time for Dodgers fans, as catcher A.J. Ellis was traded to the Dodgers for Carlos Ruiz. Read about the trade here.
After the Giants left, the Cubs came to town. The Dodgers dropped game 1 in 10 innings but fought for a 3-2 victory in game 2. Corey Seager set a franchise record with his 23rd home run in his rookie year. Seager was also the star of game 3, with two outs in the 8th inning, the Dodgers had the bases loaded. Adrian Gonzalez hit what should have been a routine groundout, but Seager hustled to second base and beat the throw. The Dodgers won the game 1-0.
Next came a series against the Rockies in Colorado. The Dodgers lost the first game by a final score of 8-1. The second game was postponed due to weather, and was rescheduled as part of a day-night double header the next day. The Dodgers lost the make-up game 7-0, and it looked like they would lost the third game too. They were trailing by 6 runs in the 8th inning, and 3 runs heading into the 9th. Andrew Toles hit a go-ahead Grand Slam and the Dodgers avoided the sweep by the Rockies.
After the short road trip, the Dodgers went home to face the Padres. San Diego took the first game by a score of 4-2. Rich Hill decided that he would not let the Dodgers lose again. He pitched 5.2 no-hit innings before Alexei Ramirez broke it up with a single. Jose De Leon made his major league debut and went 6 innings allowing 4 runs on 5 hits. Yasiel Puig hit a 3-run home run, and Yasmani Grandal hit a 2-run home run, giving De Leon his first major league win.
The Padres left Los Angeles and the Arizona Diamondbacks came to town. Zack Greinke was scheduled to pitch against Kenta Maeda in the series opener. The Dodgers hammered their former teammate, scoring 8 earned runs with 5 homers. Greinke lasted only 4.2 innings. Ross Stripling, Justin Turner, Corey Seager, and Andrew Toles lead the Dodgers to a 5-2 victory of the Diamondbacks in game 2. Yasiel Puig lead the Dodgers to victory in game 3 with a solo home run, as the Dodgers swept the D-backs in LA.
The Dodgers traveled to Miami and Clayton Kershaw made his first start since being placed on the DL. Jose Fernandez and the Marlins spoiled Kershaw’s return by scoring 3 runs off of him and allowing the Dodgers to score only 1. The final score was 4-1. Rich Hill decided not to allow the Marlins to rain on the Dodgers’ parade, so he pitched 7 perfect innings before Dave Roberts made the tough decision to pull Hill. The Dodgers won the second game by a score of 5-0. The Marlins took the rubber game of the series 3-0.
The Dodgers then headed to New York to face the Yankees. Jose De Leon made his second big league start and pitched 5 innings allowing 2 runs. The Dodgers scored 8 runs in the first game, giving the group of 800-1,300 Dodgers fans something to cheer about. In game 2, C.C. Sabathia held the Dodgers scoreless for 7 innings, and the Yankees scored with late home runs by Jacoby Ellsbury, Didi Gregorious, and Gary Sanchez, taking the game by a final score of 3-0. Game 3 had some rain delays, but that didn’t effect Clayton Kershaw in his second start off the DL. Kershaw was still on an inning limit so he pitched only 5, but didn’t allow any runs. In the 9th inning, Justin Turner hit an RBI double and the Dodgers took game 3 by a final score of 2-0.
The Dodgers next traveled to Arizona and lost the first game to the Diamondbacks 7-3. In game 2, Kenta Maeda and Zack Grienke got a rematch and Grienke performed much better. Grienke allowed 3 runs (1 earned) over 6 innings, and Maeda allowed 1 run over 5. The Dodgers won the game 3-2. In game 3, Joc Pederson hit a 2 run home run that traveled 463 feet, leading the Dodgers to a 6-2 victory. The Diamondbacks won game 4 by a score of 9-10 in 12 innings.
The Dodgers and Giants met up again in Los Angeles and the first game featured Madison Bumgarner against Clayton Kershaw. Early in the game it looked as if the Giants would win it 1-0, but the Dodgers shocked everybody by tying up the game in the 9th inning. Adrian Gonzalez then hit a walk-off double as the Dodgers took the first game by a score of 2-1. After the seventh inning, the benches emptied as Bumgarner was yelling at Yasiel Puig, “Don’t look at me!” The Giants won the second game 2-0, but Yasiel Puig wouldn’t allow the Giants to win the series. He hit a 3 run home run, leading the Dodgers to a 9-3 victory over San Francisco.
With the season nearing a close, and the magic number at 5, the Giants left town and the Rockies entered. The Dodgers took the first game of the series 7-4 with a Yasmani Grandal Grand Slam. The magic number went down to 4. The Dodgers kicked off Vin Scully weekend with a 5-2 victory, and the Giants lost to the Padres taking the magic number down to 2. With clinching the division for the 4th straight year in sight, the Dodgers did everything in their power to clinch for Kershaw. A night of home runs, including a Josh Reddick Grand Slam, propelled the Dodgers to a 14-1 win over Colorado. The Giants beat the Padres in extra innings keeping the magic number at 1.
Right now you may be thinking something like, “Wait! I thought that they clinched in Los Angeles,” or “Wasn’t the series a 4 game series?” It was, but describing the whole 4th game would make the previous paragraph to long. With the Dodgers magic number at 1, they prepared for their final game against the Rockies. Brandon McCarthy pitched for the Dodgers, and he looked dominant during the first 2 innings. The Rockies scored 2 runs in the 3rd inning, forcing the Dodgers to play the game “come from behind.” Yasiel Puig drove in Howie Kendrick, and in the 7th inning, Corey Seager hit an RBI triple tying the game at 2.
In the 9th inning, David Dahl homered putting the Rockies back on top. Seager then, in the bottom of the inning tied the game with a 2-out solo home run. In the top of the 10th inning, the unlikely hero Charlie Culberson hit a walk-off home run, clinching the NL West. The Dodgers had clinched the division back-to-back-to-back-to-back, and with a Giants loss only a matter of minutes later, the Dodgers had an 8 game lead.