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The day after clinching: the hangover game

How hard is it to win the game after you clinch the division?

MLB: Los Angeles Dodgers at Baltimore Orioles
This is all fun, but what happens the next day?
Evan Habeeb-USA TODAY Sports

For the Los Angeles Dodgers, seven straight National League Western Division titles means seven games played after the clinching celebration, with one exception. Colloquially, this contest is sometimes known as “the hangover game”, due to the celebrating that often occurs the day before.

There is also some baseball tradition of resting key players in the next game after clinching the division.

Today the Dodgers will play their 2019 hangover game. How have they fared in them in previous six years and who started in them?

Last year was the exception as the Dodgers had to play a 163rd game of the season versus the Colorado Rockies in order to decide the division. In lieu of a hangover game, their next appearance on the field was three days later, Game One of the National League Division Series at home, a 6-0 win over the Atlanta Braves.

In 2017, backup catcher Austin Barnes provided the only Dodgers run in a 2-1 loss to the San Francisco Giants and Madison Bumgarner, one day after clinching against their in-state rival. Hyun-Jin Ryu made a planned short start, allowed one run, and took the loss.

After a walkoff home run by Charlie Culberson to win the division in 2016 on a Sunday, the Dodgers had a travel day to San Diego before taking on the Padres on Tuesday night. They lost this game 7-1, with another solo home run, this time by Chase Utley, providing their only run. Kenta Maeda allowed a three-run homer in the first inning, then threw three innings of no-hit ball, and the bullpen coughed up four more runs in the eighth.

The Dodgers also clinched versus the Giants in 2015 and played them again the following night. Mike Leake shut out Los Angeles 5-0 by tossing a 104-pitch two-hitter while striking out only one batter. Dodgers starter Mike Bolsinger allowed three runs in 3 13 innings while taking the loss, despite striking out seven.

After celebrating the 2014 division title following Wednesday night win, the Dodgers again had an off-day before concluding the season with a weekend series with the Colorado Rockies. The Dodger won the Friday opener 7-4, on the strength of a six-run six-single sixth inning. The Roberto Hernandez that was formerly known as Fausto Carmona was one out short of a quality start and Scott Elbert struck out the only batter he faced, Charlie Blackmon, to pick up the win.

The Dodgers infamously celebrated their 2013 division title in Arizona, then had to travel to San Diego to play the Padres the next day. Not surprisingly, the Dodgers lost 2-0 despite starting pitcher Edinson Volquez allowing only 2 runs, 1 earned, in 6 13 innings, the second run coming on a solo home run by now-Dodger Jedd Gyorko.

So perhaps we shouldn’t expect to much from the Dodgers tonight in Baltimore, given their 1-4 regular-season record in games played after clinching the division over the last six seasons, with the win coming after an off day at home. On the other hand, baseball.