It’s still unclear what the Dodgers’ October roster will look like and what pitchers they can count on.
But what they do know for sure now, after a 4-1 win over the St. Louis Cardinals on Sunday, is that after a regular season that looks set to become the best in franchise history, they’ve taken the top spot in the National League will own.
By winning a weekend series rubber match against the Cardinals, the Dodgers equaled the club’s winning record and earned the best NL record by going 106-47.
They became the first team in MLB history to win 106 games in three straight full-length seasons, having also matched that mark in 2019 and 2021 (the 2020 season was shortened to 60 games because of the pandemic).
And they still have nine more games to set a new record for wins in franchise history.
“It speaks to the level of consistency and excellence,” said manager Dave Roberts. “We put ourselves in a really good position. To get where we want to go, you need to dominate and play well in the regular season. And we were as consistent as everyone else.”
Sunday was no exception.
Though Roberts’ pregame scrum focused on any pitchers the Dodgers are missing, he fielded questions about the uncertain status of Dustin May (back), Tony Gonsolin (forearm) and Blake Treinen (shoulder), while also reiterating that Yency Almonte ( elbow) is on course to be activated on Wednesday – the win that followed was determined by composure on the hill.
Despite being ill for the past few days, rookie Michael Grove clinched his first MLB win in a five-inning, one-run start.
After promoted Brusdar Graterol escaped a jam with a double in game six, another minor league signing Andre Jackson secured his second save of his career by finishing the game in three innings scoreless.
And in between, the lineup provided more than enough support, hitting four fast runs in the first three innings to knock out the Cardinals’ veteran starter Adam Wainwright early on.
“The pitchers call the shots,” Roberts said. “And I thought team offense was back.”
As holders of baseball’s all-time best records, the Dodgers had known they were nearing the franchise’s winning record and the NL’s top playoff seed.
However, most Dodgers didn’t realize they had evened the former and officially won the latter until after Sunday’s game.
“I didn’t even know it,” said Freddie Freeman, who returned from a two-day absence due to illness on Sunday and opened the scoring with a double in the first inning.
However, the first baseman knows what it means.
While with the Atlanta Braves, Freeman played 11 postseason games at Dodger Stadium. He said the reaction from fans to the Dodgers’ Juan Uribe home run in Game 4 of the 2013 NLDS was the loudest he had ever heard.
“This place can get deafening,” he said. “So it’s a big deal to have home field advantage throughout the NLCS.”
It’s also another reminder of how different the Dodgers’ path through the playoffs will be this season after being forced to settle for a wildcard berth in 2021.
“We missed it last year, and that probably wore us down a bit,” said catcher Will Smith, who had two hits and an RBI on Sunday. “It will be nice to have home field advantage this year and to know that.”
As for all of the other historic marks the Dodgers can make in the final weeks of the regular season?
“We’ll have plenty of time to reflect on our accomplishments,” Roberts said.
It’s the 11 postseason wins that stand between them and a World Series championship that they’re more worried about right now.
Almonte faced four batters in what the Dodgers hope will be his last rehab outing with Triple-A Oklahoma City. The right-hander only got two outs while being burdened with two runs. More importantly, however, will be whether he feels well in the days to come, which would allow him to return to the big league squad this week after suffering from an elbow injury for almost two months.
Gonsolin remains on track to make a rehab start with Oklahoma City Tuesday. Roberts said if Gonsolin continues to make good progress, he could increase his workload to four innings by the time the playoffs begin.
Roberts didn’t provide more clarity on the details of May’s back injury. “To be perfectly honest, I haven’t looked into it,” Roberts said. “He won’t be playing tag for a few days. So I let the trainers take care of it and get it right. May declined to speak to reporters at the clubhouse before the game.
https://www.latimes.com/sports/dodgers/story/2022-09-25/dodgers-tie-franchise-win-mark-cardinals-recap Dodgers tie franchise win mark, clinch NL’s top playoff seed