Yasiel Puig homered and the Dodgers staged a bruising rally to beat the Rockies 5-3 at Coors Field in Denver, on a Saturday night that ensured Los Angeles will finish with the best record in baseball for the first time in 43 years.
With that, the Dodgers will have home field advantage for as long as they last in the postseason.
The Dodgers’ win was their 103rd of the season, setting a club record since moving to Los Angeles. In the 134-year history of the franchise, only the 1953 (105 wins) and 1942 (104 wins) Brooklyn teams have won more than in 2017.
Down 3-0 after two innings, the Dodgers scratched across a run in the third inning, then Puig hit a two-run shot to tie things up in the fifth inning, his career-best 28th home run of the season.
The go-ahead rally in the seventh began with both Puig and Chase Utley getting hit by pitches, the latter barely grazing Utley’s pant leg. In all Rockies pitchers hit three Dodgers with pitches on Saturday, including the 19th HBP of the season for Justin Turner, breaking Alex Cora’s LA Dodgers record set in 2004.
A pair of ground outs in the seventh gave the Dodgers the lead, the last by Chris Taylor, who also drove in LA’s first run of the night with a ground out in the third.
Puig and Utley combined again in the ninth inning for another run, with Puig reaching base for a fourth time on the night with a single. Utley doubled Puig home, giving the Dodgers 307 doubles on the season to tie the team record set in 2006.
Puig scored four runs on Saturday to tie his career high, previously set on Sept. 21, 2014.
Kenley Jansen celebrated his 30th birthday by recording the final four outs for his 41st save. If this was his last game of the regular season, Jansen finished his 2017 with a 1.32 ERA, and 109 strikeouts in 68⅓ IP with only seven walks, just the third pitcher ever with triple-digit strikeouts and single-digit walks in a season.
The streak continues
Clayton Kershaw pitched four innings in his final start of the season, in preparation for his NLDS Game 1 start on Friday. He allowed three runs in the second inning, including a home run by Carlos Gonzalez and an RBI double by Jonathan Lucroy.
Clayton Kershaw’s career ERA
|After Year||Career ERA|
|After Year||Career ERA|
Kershaw, with his regular season now complete, won his fifth National League ERA title at 2.31. He just missed out on a record-tying fifth MLB ERA title, with Indians ace Corey Kluber ending his season at 2.25 after allowing one run in five innings on Saturday.
Kershaw also lowered his career ERA to 2.363, the lowest of any pitcher with at least 50 starts in the live ball era (1920-present). That’s lower than the 2.368 mark he had at the beginning of the season, marking the ninth consecutive season Kershaw has lowered his career ERA.
Beginning with his 4.26 ERA in 22 games as a rookie in 2008, Kershaw’s career ERA has gone down every single year since. It helps when his highest seasonal ERA since is just 2.91, with just one season above 2.28 in the last seven.
His career ERA first dropped below 3.00 after his Aug. 23, 2011 start, and has been in the twos ever since.
If you are an avid listener to either the Effectively Wild podcast or The Ringer MLB Show, you probably already knew this, as Ben Lindbergh has been championing Kershaw’s declining ERA for some time. Lindbergh noted in March that the only other two pitchers to have their career ERA decline for nine consecutive seasons following their first year are Hal Brown (10 seasons, 1952-61) and Justin Speier (1999-2007).
The Dodgers play out the string on Sunday afternoon with a bullpen game in the 12:10 p.m. PT start for the regular season finale. Tyler Anderson starts for the Rockies.
Home runs: Yasiel Puig (28); Carlos Gonzalez (14)
WP - Brandon Morrow (6-0): 1 IP, 1 hit, 1 walk
LP - Tyler Chatwood (8-15): ⅔ IP, 2 HBP, 1 run
Sv - Kenley Jansen (41): 1⅓ IP, 1 hit, 2 strikeouts