The Los Angeles Dodgers lost a fifth consecutive game back on Aug. 23, a streak composed of being swept by the Oakland Athletics and Houston Astros when Clayton Kershaw called for urgency and some panic from the club.
Kershaw had just finished throwing eight innings, collecting 10 strikeouts and allowing one run, only for Kenley Jansen to blow a save opportunity and Chris Hatcher to allow a walk-off home run in the 10th. The Dodgers’ lead over the San Francisco Giants in the National League West standings at that point was a slim 1.5 games.
Los Angeles responded by sweeping a three-game series against the Cincinnati Reds, which propelled them to winning 13 of their last 16 games, including an 8-2 mark over the last 10 contests.
While their division lead is a plush 8.5 games entering play Friday, Kershaw said recently the Dodgers must avoid letting up, according to ESPN’s Mark Saxon:
You’ve got to keep your foot on the gas. You can’t let up,” Kershaw said. “Even if we do clinch, you’ve got home-field advantage to fight for, so just keep going until October-whatever. Then, when the season ends, start all over again.”
As some worried over the state of the Dodgers, their sweeping of the Giants laid those concerns to rest and put a significant dent in San Francisco’s hopes of winning their first division title since 2012. Both clubs were off Thursday.
The Dodgers conclude their road trip in the desert with a three-game series that begins Friday against the Arizona Diamondbacks, who just took two of three from the Giants. Meanwhile, San Francisco opens a nine-game homestand on Friday, playing host to the San Diego Padres.
The Giants have 22 games remaining on their regular-season schedule and will need to make serious headway if they hope a four-game series with the Dodgers, beginning Sept. 28 at AT&T Park, will have any implications on the NL West race.
Heading into Friday any combination of 15 Dodgers’ wins and/or Giants’ losses would give Los Angeles a third consecutive NL West division title and mark the first time in franchise history they’ve made it to the postseason three straight years.