Dodgers clinch NL West for ninth time in 10 seasons

Last year they vainly chased the San Francisco Giants to the last day, missing a division title by a game and falling victim to an arduous postseason trek as a lower-lined wildcard team.

It haunted her all winter. That was one of her main motives this spring. And all through the regular season, it had been the goal on the mind of the team with the best baseball record.

The Dodgers wanted to retake the NL West. Poorly.

On Tuesday night, with more than three weeks left in the regular season, they officially did.

The Dodgers won the division title in dominant fashion with a 4-0 win over the Arizona Diamondbacks at Chase Field and closed the NL West with 21 games to go.

Unlike last year, there was no drama in this race. No scoreboards or crucial matchups within divisions on the track.

Instead, the 20th Division title in Dodgers franchise history, and their ninth in the last 10 years, has lain on hold for weeks since the team turned a first-place finish with the Padres into a stunning 19 ½ game lead to 24 on June 22 Aug.

Since then, a first place felt inevitable, with the bigger question being how quickly the Dodgers would win.

On Tuesday, they did so in their 141st game, the fastest ever by a Dodgers team in a full-length season.

The win was achieved by both the Dodgers’ longest-serving player and two of their newest faces.

Clayton Kershaw shone through seven scoreless innings, giving up just two hits and a walk while hitting five in his fourth start in a division-clinching game.

The left-hander has shut out opponents in three of those games with a 0.30 ERA in such situations. On Tuesday, he was also part of a division title team for the 11th time in his career.

At the plate, the Dodgers opened the scoring with a two-run homer in the second inning by Joey Gallo, the team’s biggest trade-deadline acquisition.

In the third inning, they added another run on a solo blast from Freddie Freeman, the team’s $162 million offseas who helped lead their league-leading offense with an MLB-best .329.

The last time the Dodgers had a scene like this was in 2019 (their 2020 celebration was muted — and sans alcohol — due to pandemic rules) before they had Freeman or Trea Turner or Mookie Betts; before winning their first World Series title in more than three decades.

However, their goals then were the same as they are today.

Win the division in the regular season. Then have a much higher goal in October.

On Tuesday evening they celebrated the first step. Now your attention will turn to the latter.

https://www.latimes.com/sports/dodgers/story/2022-09-13/dodgers-vs-diamondbacks-mlb-recap Dodgers clinch NL West for ninth time in 10 seasons

Emma Bowman

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