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The Home Stretch

That certainly went better than expected. Not only did Florida and Philadelphia have the evenly matched series, I hoped for the Dodgers actually managed to split the series with the Mets, far more than I expected out of this weekend. Credit for this sweep goes to the Dodger rookies Hong-Chih Kuo and Eric Stults, who both won in their first major league starts. With that said, may Stults never start again barring an emergency. The Mets have struggled against lefties all year, and they mainly ran their B squad out there on Sunday. Despite this Stults struck out only three Mets through six, allowed several long outs and had a couple timely double plays. This outing was nice, but let's not starting altering our future plans to accommodate him. Stults could very well end up as a solid member of the bullpen or, more importantly, someone to keep in mind if the Dodgers want to acquire another Mark Hendrickson, but not much else. Still, credit goes to him for doing far better than expected.

Now that I'm done being a negative Nellie, let's look at the big picture. After losses by the Phillies and the hated Giants, the Dodgers magic number is now down to 16 over Philadelphia, Florida and San Francisco.  With the Mets out of the way, the Dodgers enter one of the easiest stretches of the year. They face off against the two worst teams in the NL, the mathematically eliminated Cubs, and the Pirates, who aren't eliminated yet, but should be by the time you read this. These teams should just be giving whatever prospects they have a chance to play with no desire to accomplish things like "winning". If the Dodgers can put the hurt on those teams, like they should, the team could see their magic number drop by seven or eight during that time.

The only problem is that between those series lies a three game set with the Padres, a team the Dodgers haven't beat since the Carter administration. If the Dodgers can actually find it within themselves to win a game, or, and I know this is asking a lot, win twice against the Padres, it would really help.

With the Phillies and Padres stumbling this weekend, the Dodgers are at the point where .500 ball the rest of the way should do it, and the Cubs and the Pirates are a great way to get a jump on that. The time looks right for a patented Dodger seven game win streak, let's make it happen.