DENVER — The Dodgers had nothing to celebrate Saturday, not even a lower magic number. Their 8-6 loss to the Colorado Rockies, combined with the San Francisco Giants’ win over the Oakland A’s, forced them to hold the National League West-clinching champagne another day. The box score is here.
The San Diego Padres beat the San Francisco Giants 5-4 in extra innings, so the Dodgers lead the second-place Giants by seven games with 11 to play.
The Dodgers’ magic number to clinch the division is 5. The earliest they can clinch outright is Saturday. Because the Giants’ game against the Oakland A’s begins at 1 p.m. PT, and the Dodgers’ game against the Rockies begins at 5 p.m., it’s possible the Dodgers can clinch the division before they set foot on the field.
Brett Anderson‘s fatal flaw was exposed in an 8-4 loss to the Arizona Diamondbacks, and Chase Utley played third base for the first time in his major league career.
After the game, third baseman Justin Turner said that an MRI on his left knee revealed a bone bruise and an inflamed tendon. He won’t have to miss much time.
“It’s pretty much the best case we could’ve had,” Turner said. “There’s not really a whole lot medicine-wise to help speed it up. It’s kind of a good-case, bad-case kind of thing.”
Turner said he will treat the tendon with rest and ice. The bone bruise, he said, “isn’t going anywhere.”
After playing 1,574 games in the major leagues — 1,474 at second base and 32 at first (he was a pinch hitter or designated hitter in the other games) — Chase Utley is starting at third base today for the first time in his career.
“Why not?” Dodgers manager Don Mattingly said. “The fact that (Justin Turner) is down. A righty out there [Jhoulys Chacin is starting for the Arizona Diamondbacks]. We’ve been working toward this. Wally felt like last time was his best time out there. We don’t worry about him — he knows where to play, knows where to be. That type stuff. Seemed like tonight was the right night.”
Turner had an MRI on his sore left knee Monday and is down for a “couple days,” Mattingly said. The Dodgers’ second-best option at the position, Corey Seager, is starting at shortstop. Alex Guerrero, who’s started one game at third base the past six weeks, must wait to start another.
Despite his prowess at second base, Utley’s been taking ground balls at third practically since the moment he joined the Dodgers. The last time Utley played third base in a game, he was a 23-year-old in Triple-A in 2002. His teammates included Nick Punto and P.J. Forbes, who managed the Dodgers’ Single-A affiliate last year.
Howie Kendrick/Photo courtesy of Los Angeles Dodgers
L.A. Dodgers second baseman Howie Kendrick was having a fine season, until he went down with a hamstring injury nearly six weeks ago. The Dodgers on Friday activated Kendrick, who had not played since Aug. 9.
That brought a smile to the face of manager Don Mattingly, who did not start Kendrick in Friday’s series opener with the Pittsburgh Pirates, but declared him 100 percent ready to roll.
“We’re just kind of looking at it like we’ve gotta get him back in,” Mattingly said. “He’s not going to go play rehab games, so we’re going to try to not just throw him out there every day.
“He’s basically under no restrictions, he can do anything, nobody’s telling me how to use him or whatever. But I know we do want to be careful with him as far as getting him back in there, not being four or five days in a row.”
Kendrick had been an integral part of the team’s offense. He still leads the team with a .296 batting average. He also has nine home runs and 49 RBIs and an on-base-percentage of .341.
Mattingly considered starting Kendrick on Friday.
“A little bit, but then we’re just kind of looking at both lefties,” he said of Pirates southpaws Jeff Locke and Francisco Liriano, Friday’s and Saturday starting pitchers, respectively. “You never know how the game’s going to go, (but) Liriano’s been a lot tougher on lefties, so if we’re going to try to go every other (day) a little bit to get Howie going, this lefty (Locke) is a lot better for us matchup-wise than tomorrow’s lefty is for Chase (Utley).”
Utley, a left-handed hitter, started Friday at second base against Locke.
The Dodgers went 22-12 without Kendrick.