For the eighth year in a row, the Los Angeles Dodgers are the National League West champions.
The best team in baseball clinched the division and the No. 1 seed in the National League on Tuesday night with a 7-2 win over the Athletics at Dodger Stadium, coupled with a Padres loss at home to the Angels a little earlier in the night.
“It’s been really bizarre,” manager Dave Roberts said on a postgame conference call, his 55th in a pandemic-shortened season. “I recall a time a few months ago where I didn’t know if we were going to have a season this year.
“To be crowned NL West champions again is a credit to everybody in that clubhouse, in the organization. I’m really proud of these guys. It’s something that a lot of people expect, but it should never be taken for granted.”
“You can’t assume it every year,” Corey Seager said. “We’ve been on a pretty special run.”
The Dodgers captured their 39th win of 2020 a lot like many of the previous 38. Lots of home runs were hit, and they backed solid starting pitching with a group effort in relief to close it out.
The home run barrage started innocently enough.
With two outs in the third inning, Seager hit a pop fly to center field, and dejectedly put his head down while running to first, sure he made the last out of the inning. After all, the ball was a textbook Canha corn, only the A’s center fielder first broke back, then could not recover in time, allowing the lazy pop fly, with an expected batting average of .070, to drop for a hit.
Max Muncy followed two pitches later with a home run over the center field wall, his first long ball since September 4, turning a one-run deficit into a Dodgers lead. Muncy was 6-for-51 (.118) with 12 walks and 18 strikeouts — the two true outcomes! — in between home runs.
In the fourth, Chris Taylor stayed hot with his fifth home run in 10 games. He owns a .716 slugging percentage in September. A.J. Pollock followed with a solo shot of his own, his fifth home run in his last nine games, just hours after Roberts extolled the virtues of the balance with Taylor and Pollock in the lineup.
That was enough to chase Frankie Montas after four innings. Seager added a shot in the fifth inning, giving the Dodgers an MLB-high eight games with four or more home runs.
The Dodgers lead baseball with 104 home runs.
It’s unknown exactly what Dustin May’s role will be in the wild card round, something that probably won’t be finalized until the Dodgers’ know who exactly who they are playing in that first round. In what could have been his final full start of the regular season, May was wilder than usual but persevered through five innings for the win.
May walked a career-high three batters and threw the second wild pitch in his career. But he also allowed only three hits and two runs while striking out five. One was a solo shot off the foul pole in the first inning by Robbie Grossman, and the other run came on the wild pitch. May held Oakland to 0-for-3 with runners in scoring position. Batters are 6-for-34 (.176) with RISP against May this season.
Five Dodgers relievers followed with four scoreless frames to close out the win, allowing only two hits while striking out eight.
On Sunday, May will get the ball again. The only question will be just how long that outing is, and in preparation for what role in the opening round. Which the Dodgers will play as the No. 1 seed in the National League.
Home runs: Max Muncy (11), Chris Taylor (8), A.J. Pollock (13), Corey Seager (14); Robbie Grossman (6)
WP — Dustin May (2-1): 5 IP, 3 hits, 2 runs, 3 walks, 5 strikeouts
LP — Frankie Montas (3-5): 4 IP, 7 hits, 5 runs, 1 walk, 3 strikeouts
Julio Urias starts for the Dodgers on Wednesday night (6:40 p.m., SportsNet LA), facing left-hander Sean Manaea for Oakland.