A crowd of 37,514 stood to greet the Dodgers as they walked off the field in Chavez Ravine Wednesday afternoon. A 6-1 win over the Colorado Rockies capped off a historic regular season in which the Dodgers tied 111-51 for the fourth-most wins in major league history.
What happens over the next few weeks will define how this Dodger team is remembered, but what’s happened over the past six months shouldn’t be easily forgotten, whether the Dodgers are eliminated in the first round of the playoffs or their second World Series titles win 3 years.
“I think it’s amazing when you really take a step back and realize how hard that is to achieve,” said first baseman Freddie Freeman, who finished a 0-for-13 sled with a double, a homer and an RBI individually in four bats. “Winning 111 games and going 60 games over .500? You have to be good from start to finish.
“It’s day games after night games, 4am boarding, long travel days… It’s really difficult for us to get up and grind and win that many games over a six month period. As a group we can appreciate a lot of good things that happened this year.”
Some good things were happening in the batter’s box for a club that looked set to slip back into the playoffs by scoring four runs in three straight losses to the Rockies before Wednesday.
Shortstop Trea Turner, who hadn’t hit a home run or run since September 16, broke a 1-1 tie in the fifth inning with a three-run homer to right midfield and lined a single to the left in the seventh.
Turner hit in his first two at-bats but drove a 3-and-1 sinker in the outside half from right-hander Chad Smith 407 feet for a 4-1 lead and his 98th, 99th and 100th RBIs of the Season.
“I just don’t drive the ball, especially into right field, so it’s nice to get a pitch across the plate and hit it where it’s supposed to go,” Turner said. “It’s good to end on a high note and prepare for the postseason and try to keep it going.”
Freeman had to go four-for-four to pass New York Mets second baseman Jeff McNeil (.326) for the National League batting title, but he fell a point when he flew to the warning lane at center in the fifth.
But with his double in the first inning, solo homer in the third and RBI single in the seventh, Freeman finished with a .325 batting average and a .918 percentage on base plus slugging, 21 homers, 47 doubles and an NL- Leader 117 runs, 100 RBIs and NL-leading 199 hits.
Freeman and Turner (194 hits) become the sixth teammates to finish first and second in the major leagues in the same season and the first Dodgers teammates to hit 100 runs in a season since Andre Ethier and Matt Kemp im year 2009.
“My goal is to get .300 on 100 carries, 100 RBIs and .900 OPS every year,” said Freeman, a former Atlanta Braves star who signed a six-year, $162 million contract in March. “To get that done in my first season with the Dodgers and set a franchise record for wins? I don’t think you can ask for more.”
Well, there’s one more thing on Freeman’s wish list. A championship ring.
“The first tournament is over,” Freeman said. “Now the big tournament begins. Nobody cares about your numbers or how many wins you have as of Tuesday.”
The Dodgers go into the postseason without injured ace Walker Buehler but with a rejuvenated Clayton Kershaw, who missed the 2021 playoffs with an elbow injury but will feature prominently this October.
Kershaw gave up a run and a hit in five innings Wednesday — a homer by Ezequiel Tovar in the second — hit nine and went to finish with a 12-3 record and 2.28 ERA in 22 starts.
The three-time NL Cy Young Award winner finished 15 of 17 batsmen and took his career strikeout total to 2,807, overtaking none other than Cy Young for 24th on baseball’s all-time list.
“It’s obviously an incredible company,” Kershaw said. “I don’t even know the right word, but it’s cool.”
Kershaw missed four weeks after suffering another lower back injury in early August but is 5-0 in seven starts since Sept. 1 with a 1.54 ERA, giving up 27 hits, batting out 49 and went eight in 41 innings.
“I didn’t quite make it this year,” said Kershaw, who was twice injured, “but I’m healthy at the right time, which is huge for me.”
Kershaw’s next start will be in the NL Division Series, but the Dodgers have yet to decide how to line up Julio Urías and Kershaw for the first two games against the New York Mets or San Diego Padres.
Urías was one of baseball’s best starters this year, going 17-7 with an NL-best 2.16 ERA, hitting 166 and walking 41 in 175 innings, a performance manager Dave Roberts said he would win his vote for the NL Cy Young Award .
“Just to give you a behind-the-scenes look, it’s more about who we think might be best going back to a regular break in Game 5,” Roberts said. “It’s not competitive. It’s certainly not talent driven. We have the feeling: Who is best suited for this?”
https://www.latimes.com/sports/dodgers/story/2022-10-05/dodgers-rockies-gamer-mlb-recap Dodgers defeat Rockies to finish regular season with 111 wins