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Dodgers host A’s in a battle of division leaders

Best in the NL West meets best in AL West

San Francisco Giants v. Los Angeles Dodgers Photo by Rob Leiter/MLB Photos via Getty Images

The Dodgers begin their final week of the regular season with a rarity: playing a good team. The Oakland A’s, who on Monday night while idle won the American League West, are in Los Angeles for a three-game series beginning Tuesday night at Dodger Stadium.

With regional scheduling in a pandemic-shortened 2020 season to cut down on travel, both the Dodgers and A’s have been confined to playing both western divisions, and they’ve ran roughshod through them. Los Angeles finished 27-13 against the NL West and Oakland is 24-12 against the AL West, two of the four best divisional records this season.

The Padres have the second-best record in the National League and the second-best run differential in the majors. That’s been the Dodgers’ lone real test this season, and they passed, winning six of 10 games against San Diego.

Potential Dodgers wild card opponents

Seed Team Record Run diff.
Seed Team Record Run diff.
5 Marlins 28-26 -27
6 Cardinals 26-25 +8
7 Reds 28-27 -7
8 Phillies 27-27 -1
Brewers 26-27 -6
Giants 26-27 0

The Astros are the only other team in either west division with a non-losing record, at 27-27 and a +2 run differential. The Giants, who enter Tuesday a half-game out of a playoff berth, are 26-27 with a break-even run differential.

There’s been a ton of consternation about how the Dodgers, who established themselves as clearly the best team in the National League, could lose in a best-of-three wild card round. Chiropractors figure to be busy soon, since over the next week or so, lots of people will twist themselves into logical knots thinking that whatever No. 8 seed the Dodgers will play will beat them.

But that’s because any team can lose in a three-game series. That’s how baseball works.

However, should the Dodgers lose in the first round, it won’t be because they haven’t played many good teams this season. Their schedule has been full of the same dross they will draw next week, and they’re 13-1-4 in series play.

Dustin May gets the call in the opener for the Dodgers, which may or may not be his final start of the season, depending how the team plans to use him in the opening round.

The Dodgers have a magic number of two to clinch the National League West, and the No. 1 NL seed. They can clinch as early as Tuesday night, needing a win and a Padres loss, with San Diego starting a half hour earlier, hosting the Angels.

Old friend Frankie Montas starts for Oakland on Tuesday, having an up-and-down season. He had a 1.57 ERA through August 8, allowing three runs and no home runs in his first four starts. But he’s allowed at least four runs four times in his last five starts, with seven home runs and a 10.80 ERA since.

Game info

Time: 6:40 p.m.

TV: SportsNet LA, ESPN (a national broadcast available locally, with Jon Sciambi, Chipper Jones, and Rick Sutcliffe on the call)