PHOENIX — When Clayton Kershaw takes the mound with a chance to assist the Dodgers clinch the Nationwide League West, a gem is assured. The 34-year-old left-hander will make sure that he and his teammates expertise a title celebration that evening.
On Tuesday at Chase Discipline, the champagne might have been placed on ice within the first inning.
Kershaw carved by way of the D-backs’ lineup for seven masterful frames of two-hit ball, and the Dodgers captured their ninth NL West title in 10 seasons with a 4-0 win. Los Angeles (98-43) ran away with the division this yr, clinching in its 141st recreation, which is the earliest the Dodgers have accomplished so for the reason that franchise relocated to L.A. in 1958 (apart from the pandemic-shortened 60-game season in 2020).
This was the fourth time that Kershaw began an NL West-clinching recreation for the Dodgers, having beforehand accomplished so in 2009, ‘14 and ‘15. Throughout these outings, he has a 0.30 ERA (one earned run allowed in 30 innings) with 39 strikeouts and 5 walks.
From 2013-20, successful the NL West grew to become a formality for Los Angeles, which had an eight-year reign atop the division. Dave Roberts took over as supervisor in ‘16, and the Dodgers completed in first in every of his first 5 seasons, a run that culminated with a World Sequence championship in ‘20.
Nonetheless, Roberts and lots of of Los Angeles’ core gamers skilled a brand new feeling in 2021 — a second-place division end. The Dodgers stored their postseason streak alive (a run now prolonged to 10 straight in ‘22), however they have been an NL Wild Card, ending one recreation behind the Giants within the West.
Los Angeles got here into this yr with recapturing the division crown as the primary objective on its projected timeline. The Dodgers had spent the offseason upgrading a roster already overflowing with All-Stars and high expertise, primarily by signing Freddie Freeman, one of many recreation’s elite first basemen, to a six-year, $162 million deal.
Roberts mentioned earlier this week that that is the perfect offensive crew he’s had in his seven-year tenure in Los Angeles, and he positive appears to be proper. In Tuesday’s clincher, Freeman and Joey Gallo (who came to visit from the Yankees forward of the Commerce Deadline) every homered. So did Max Muncy, one of many crew’s mainstays over the previous 5 seasons.
The Dodgers could also be division champions once more, however they’ve a lot bigger targets in sight for the remainder of the season. They need to be the No. 1 seed within the NL — they at present have a 10-game benefit over the NL East-leading Mets — and naturally, they need to deliver a World Sequence title to Los Angeles for a second time in three years.