Heading into play on Sunday, the Los Angeles Dodgers hold a 2.5-game lead over the San Francisco Giants in the National League West standings. It wasn’t all that long ago the Dodgers were leading the division by six games and some were anointing them repeat NL West champions.
Although still a respectable 6-4 in their last 10 games, the Dodgers have suffered two consecutive losses in extra innings to the San Diego Padres while the Giants have rattled off five wins in a row.
The Dodgers and Giants have six regular-season games remaining against one another with each team hosting a three-game series. Despite the Dodgers’ recent struggles, manager Don Mattingly believes reason for optimism lies ahead, via ESPN LA’s Mark Saxon:
I think everyone in our locker room understands how good the Giants are and where we’re at and how we need to play and how hard games are to win down the stretch,” Mattingly said. “We’re getting into the pennant race, and I think we should have expected it, and it should be fun. I think it’s going to be a lot of good baseball coming up. We’re going to get the big hits, and we’re going to get the outs we need.”
Mattingly also pointed to the Dodgers’ health coming full circle and the expectations he has for the returning players:
You want to have all your weapons so you don’t have any excuses, so you don’t have to look back and say, ‘Well, we were hurt or banged up.’ We’re going to be probably as healthy as anybody,” Mattingly said. “We’ve got a lot of guys who can play. I expect them to, and I expect us to play well down the stretch.”
The Dodgers reinstated Hyun-Jin Ryu from the disabled list Sunday and will likely do the same with Juan Uribe Monday, when active rosters expand. At one point, the date of return for both players was uncertain and each has recovered relatively quickly, despite the Dodgers’ cautious handling of their respective recoveries.
Zack Greinke managed to avoid the DL and has been strong in his last two outings after having his scheduled start pushed back due to the discomfort in his right elbow. Now the Dodgers will need to hope players such as Hanley Ramirez and Yasiel Puig find their rhythm at the plate and stay healthy, which has proven particularly difficult for Ramirez this season.
Along with facing the Giants, the Washington Nationals, who arrive at Dodger Stadium for a three-game series Monday, are the only other playoff team remaining on the Dodgers’ schedule.
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