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Dave Roberts: ‘We’re going to win the division, I can assure you of that’

MLB: Arizona Diamondbacks at Los Angeles Dodgers
“Cody, hold up the number of fingers to represent what place the Dodgers will finish in the NL West.”
Richard Mackson-USA TODAY Sports

LOS ANGELES — In 12 days, the Dodgers have seen their division lead cut exactly in half, from 21 games up on the Diamondbacks to 10½, after Arizona came to Dodger Stadium and swept the Dodgers for the second time in just over a week.

With 23 games remaining (and 22 for Arizona), the Dodgers still aren’t worried.

“We’re going to win the division, I can assure you of that,” manager Dave Roberts said after his team’s sixth straight defeat.

Back in 1982, the Dodgers were on the other end of the spectrum, turning a 10½-game deficit into a half-game lead over the Braves in just 12 days. That included two four-game sweeps of Atlanta.

But that run ended in early August, with the Dodgers assuming first place with 48 games left in the season. Their lead would grow to four games, only to see Atlanta recover and ultimately win the NL West, clinching the division on the penultimate day of the season.

For all the climbing the Diamondbacks have done, in terms of the NL West they have only completed half the battle. There is still a long way to go. But even if the Diamondbacks win the Wild Card Game to get to play the Dodgers in the NLDS — if the Dodgers maintain the best record in the NL, for which they own a 7½-game lead over the Nationals — Arizona will certainly be a tough matchup in the playoffs.

“It doesn’t matter right now what the records are, it doesn’t matter what the talent level is. I believe in the talent in the room,” Roberts said. “We’ve got to go out and win a baseball game.”

The Dodgers offense scored just two runs in the three games against the Diamondbacks, and in the 1-11 stretch dating back to Aug. 26 the club has scored 27 runs, an average of 2.25 per game.

“Any time you’re not getting good results, it’s frustrating. The fans probably don’t want to hear ‘Stay with the process and keep going about it,’ but it’s the truth,” said third baseman Justin Turner. “The pendulum will swing back in our favor. We just have to keep showing up, keep grinding, and stay positive.”

Roberts has for the most part kept an even keel in his demeanor most of the season, never getting too high with the wins — all 92 of them, still the most in baseball, by the way — or getting too low with the losses, mounting rapidly over the last two weeks.

“There’s something to being reactionary on a certain result, versus being reactionary or showing anger toward a process or lack of effort,” Roberts said. “If you look at the last 10 days of offense, it’s not from lack of preparation. Guys are doing the same thing as they’ve done all year long. No one likes to make outs, so for me to get upset at a result makes no sense. Hitting is very difficult.

“The pitching and the hitting have been inconsistent. The guys are trying like heck. There are times when hitters go through stretches like this, but you find ways to scratch out a few more wins. But it will turn. There’s no quit. There’s really nothing to say, but we’ve got to find a way to win a game.”

Turner ejected

Turner was called out on strikes in the sixth inning, then was ejected for expressing his displeasure at the call from the dugout to home plate umpire Chris Fairchild.

“I basically just told him how far outside it was,” Turner said. “That was apparently enough to get thrown out in a 1-1 game. I don’t know.

“When it’s that egregious, there’s not a whole lot you can do. It’s a helpless feeling. If I had to do it all over again, I probably wouldn’t have given him the time of day. At the same time, I don’t feel like I did a whole lot to warrant the ejection.”

Turner on the season has 46 strikeouts and 52 walks, joining Joey Votto, Anthony Rizzo and Mookie Betts as the only players in MLB with enough plate appearances to qualify for the batting title with at least as many walks as strikeouts in 2017.

“That’s a sign of frustration, very unlike Justin,” Roberts said. “He’s a competitor and disagreed with the call. He voiced his opinion, and Chad did the right thing.”

Turner will get a planned day off on Thursday, Roberts said, with Logan Forsythe starting at third base and Chase Utley at second base against Colorado.

Up next

The Dodgers continue their homestand with a four-game weekend series against the Rockies. The Thursday night opener will feature a fun pitching matchup, with Clayton Kershaw starting against Jon Gray, in a 7:10 p.m. PT start.

“The last time we won was when Clayton took the mound,” Roberts said. “We’ve got to turn the page on this series.”