Dodgers vs. Diamondbacks: Stephen Fife gets first crack at division title

Rob Leifheit-USA TODAY Sports

Stephen Fife makes his first start for the Dodgers since Aug. 4, with a chance to punch the Dodgers' ticket to the postseason.

PHOENIX -- The Dodgers have a chance to secure a National League West title and a trip to the playoffs for the first time in four years on Wednesday night as they face the Diamondbacks in the third game of a four-game set at Chase Field.

What is amazing is that the Dodgers, who on June 21 were 30-42 and in last place, 9½ games back of Arizona, could be the first team in baseball to clinch a playoff berth. The Dodgers, with a magic number of two, join the Red Sox as the only teams with a chance to clinch anything on Wednesday.

Boston's magic number to clinch the American League East, over the Rays, is three, but they can secure at least a playoff berth on Wednesday with a win over Baltimore and a loss by the Indians to Kansas City.

The Braves have a magic number of four to clinch the National League East. Since the second-place Nationals are also the team third in the wild card standings, that magic number is the same for Atlanta to clinch a playoff berth as well.

The Athletics have a magic number of five for a playoff berth and six for the AL West, while the Tigers have a magic number of six to win the AL Central.

For the Dodgers to clinch their 12th division title (counting 1981, when the strike-shortened season was split into halves and the Dodgers beat the Astros in the very first division series), Stephen Fife will have to revert to his early season form.

Since getting inexplicably moved to the bullpen in Triple-A Albuquerque as the sixth starter on call if needed, Fife has pitched poorly. In seven games between the minors and majors since Aug. 10 Fife, a creature of habit and routine, has a 10.89 ERA with 19 walks and nine strikeouts in 19 innings.

But before that he was 4-3 with a 2.47 ERA in nine starts for the Dodgers, with 40 strikeouts and 14 walks in 51 innings. Fife has faced the Diamondbacks just once in his career, and he took the loss at Dodger Stadium on Aug. 1, 2012, allowing two runs in 4⅓ innings.

Brandon McCarthy, starting for the Diamondbacks on Wednesday, has had a down year at 4-9 with a 4.58 ERA, but he has been much better of late. McCarthy has walked just one batter in his last four starts, with a 2.10 ERA in 30 innings during that span.

McCarthy in his career is 1-0 with a 2.03 ERA in two starts against the Dodgers. He faced them once this year, allowing three runs in 6⅓ innings in a no-decision on May 7 at Dodger Stadium.

Notes

  • The Dodgers are 8-9 against the Diamondbacks this season and 32-33 against the NL West.
  • After their 9-23 start within the division, the Dodgers are 23-10 against the NL West.
  • The Dodgers are 5-3 at Chase Field this season and have outscored Arizona 36-21 in those eight games in Phoenix.
  • Adrian Gonzalez is hitting .400/.457/.733 at Chase Field this season and has hit three of the Dodgers' six home runs in Phoenix in 2013.
  • Gonzalez has hit 14 of his 21 home runs this season against the NL West (including none against San Francisco). Even with his struggles against the Giants, Gonzalez is hitting .299/.350/.521 against the division in 2013, with 47 RBI in 63 games.
  • Hanley Ramirez is 7-for-17 with a double, a home run and four walks in Arizona this season, hitting 412/.545/.647.

Game info

Time: 7:10 p.m.

TV: Prime Ticket, ESPN

MLB Gameday

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