The Los Angeles Dodgers are on the verge of closing out a second consecutive month as the first-place team in the National League West.
After another slow start to the season, the Dodgers moved into first place with a sweep of the San Francisco Giants in mid-June and haven’t looked back. Heading into Friday’s game against the San Diego Padres, the Dodgers hold a 4.5-game lead in the NL West over the Giants.
The Dodgers are considered the favorites to clinch the division, but Clayton Kershaw said a sense of comfort shouldn’t overcome the team until they’ve actually won the NL West, via Jill Painter of the LA Daily News:
When we clinch. There’s really no comfortable lead, especially when we still have to play the Giants six more times.”
Carl Crawford echoed a similar sentiment and said he learned from his time with the Boston Red Sox:
No lead is ever safe,” Crawford said of his time with the Red Sox. “We were the best team in baseball all year. I can’t really say what happened, but we didn’t get it done. Going through that time shows you that you can never think a lead is safe.”
Manager Don Mattingly also added the time to feel safe is only after clinching the division:
It’s safe when you clinch,” manager Don Mattingly said. “That’s the only time you can feel good. There’s too many things, historically, that can happen. We’ll get ready to play every day, play good baseball and not worry about anybody else and take care of our business.”
As Kershaw noted, the Dodgers and Giants will meet for six games before season’s end; a three-game set at AT&T Park from Sept. 12-14 and again at Chavez Ravine Sept. 22-24. Prior to sweeping the Giants in June, the Dodgers had lost seven of the 10 meetings.
Outside of the two series with the Giants and facing the Washington Nationals at home beginning Sept. 1, the Dodgers will not play any other teams in playoff contention.
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