Just two weeks ago the Los Angeles Dodgers were just 1.5 games ahead of the San Francisco Giants in the NL West following a five-game losing streak.
After a win on Monday against the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim, the team now sits 8.5 games ahead of the Giants and have won 12 of their last 14 games. While the lead seems comfortable, collapses have occurred in the past and the Dodgers will try to avoid a letdown.
According to Steve Dilbeck of the LA Times, manager Don Mattingly is fine with enjoying the improved play, but wants the focus to remain on what’s to come:
I don’t really want to feel like anything, other than just try to win every night,” said Manager Don Mattingly. “We’re playing good right now. There’s nothing wrong with riding that, just continuing to try win a game every night.”
The Dodgers magic number is down to 17 with 25 games remaining, including a four-game set in San Francisco at the end of the month. It’s possible the team will have clinched by then, but Clayton Kershaw made it clear that he believes those games will mean something after sweeping the Giants at Dodger Stadium last week.
Scott Van Slyke, who was 4-for-5 with four RBIs on Monday, also narrows the team’s focus on winning, but adds a specific reason:
We’re playing well and we just played the team that’s chasing us and took care of business there,” said Scott Van Slyke. “We’re just trying to get as many wins as we can before the season ends to make it hard on the Giants.”
If things went perfect, the earliest the Dodgers could clinch is September 18 against the Pittsburgh Pirates at home. However, depending on how both teams play, the series in San Francisco could win one team the division.