Not to be a downer (part 1) but: Colleague Vincent Bonsignore writes that the Dodgers should have their sights set on bigger celebrations.
In case you missed it, the Dodgers can clinch the National League West by beating the Giants today.
Dodgers manager Don Mattingly, in his pregame remarks to the media (above), was careful in choosing his words. After all, the Dodgers’ haven’t clinched the division just yet.
“It’s a good situation, obviously, that we’ve put ourselves in,” he said. “Anytime Clayton’s pitching, you feel pretty good.”
Giants manager Bruce Bochy seems to have embraced the possibility of losing the division with a slightly firmer handshake.
“We know it could happen,” Bochy said. “If it does, I’m not going to get caught up in what they do.”
Last year, the Dodgers celebrated the NL West title by jumping in the Arizona Diamondbacks’ pool. This year, there’s no pool in sight: Just 24 cases of beer, 204 bottles of champagne and four cases of Martinelli’s sparkling cider — MLB doesn’t allow alcohol on the field — buried in the bowels of the stadium in case the Dodgers clinch.
In light of that, Mattingly had an interesting message to his players: Restrain yourselves.
“I know it’s a rivalry but in the situation, there’s a good chance if we’re able to do this tonight you want to stay humble because you have a chance of playing (the Giants) again,” Mattingly said. “They’re a championship team. They have a chance to move forward.”
The last time the Dodgers faced San Francisco Giants left-hander Madison Bumgarner, it didn’t end well. They lost 9-0 on Sept. 12 in San Francisco. Bumgarner won his 18th game of the season that day; today he’ll try to make it 19.
Dodgers manager Don Mattingly wouldn’t say why he flipped Yasiel Puig and Justin Turner in the batting order Tuesday. Puig led off the Sept. 12 game; Turner is leading off today with Puig batting second.
“Because I felt like it,” Mattingly said, smiling.
The manager was a little more loquacious when he talked about Bumgarner and what makes him successful:
Mattingly also compared Bumgarner to several other left-handed pitchers who have had varying degrees in the major and minor leagues:
Bumgarner has allowed one run in his last 18 innings against the Dodgers. His 2.36 career earned-run average is his third-lowest against any opponent he’s faced more than once.
The Dodgers’ complete lineup:
CHICAGO >> The Dodgers are playing the San Francisco Giants tomorrow, in case you haven’t heard. It’s a three-game series and this is what the standings look like right now.
So, rivalry game in the final week of the season with first place in the division at stake. Perhaps not surprisingly, Don Mattingly didn’t have to explain this to the Dodger players.
Things you learn by talking to people after a game: The Dodgers’ win over the Giants today might have depended on overcoming a misunderstanding.
Joc Pederson didn’t get into the game. In fact, he wasn’t even the left-hander chosen to pinch hit for Clayton Kershaw in the ninth inning against right-hander Hunter Strickland — Andre Ethier was. Behind the scenes, he’s still adjusting to a new routine. You can read about that here.
SAN FRANCISCO >> After the Giants scored all nine runs Friday, and the Dodgers scored all 17 runs Saturday, the two teams will be hard-pressed to put up a crooked number in Sunday’s series finale.
Clayton Kershaw is starting for the Dodgers. He’s had the efficiency of a robot all season. Here are a few numbers that make it hard to believe he will allow a run today:
Hyun-Jin Ryu is getting an MRI on his left shoulder Monday in Los Angeles and Carlos Frias will take his spot in the rotation if he can’t pitch Wednesday. Read more about Ryu and Frias in today’s notebook.
SAN FRANCISCO >> Dodgers pitcher Hyun-Jin Ryu met with team physician Dr. Neal ElAttrache here Saturday, one day after inflammation in his left shoulder forced him to leave the Dodgers’ 9-0 loss to the San Francisco Giants after one inning.
ElAttrache ordered an MRI on Ryu’s left shoulder, and the pitcher wait until Monday in Los Angeles to get that done.
“They could’ve done the MRI (here) but they weren’t confident — the regular Giants guys were gone,” Dodgers manager Don Mattingly said.
Hyun-Jin Ryu’s injury history, a long first inning, and a typically chilly San Francisco night might have conspired to create disaster for the Dodgers. I explained how in the game story. The box score is equally ugly.