LOS ANGELES -- While the Los Angeles Dodgers were handily beating the visiting Colorado Rockies 14-1 on Saturday night, nearly everyone inside Dodger Stadium was following the game down south between the San Francisco Giants and San Diego Padres.
A victory by the Padres coupled with an L.A. win would clinch a fourth consecutive NL West title for the Dodgers, and that possibility went from long shot to a real possibility when the Padres rallied from a 6-0 deficit against Giants ace Madison Bumgarner to send the game into extra innings.
But the Giants prevailed 9-6 in 10 innings, preventing the Dodgers from celebrating for at least another day. They’ll get another opportunity to pour champagne Sunday afternoon when they host the Rockies in the final home game of the regular season, which will also serve as the final home game for retiring broadcaster Vin Scully.
“Any team would want to clinch anywhere, but it’s always sweeter to clinch at home,” said manager Dave Roberts. “For that great man, for that wonderful human to watch it in person here, in his home, in his house, it’s only fitting.”
The Dodgers have plenty of other reasons to show up at the ballpark feeling confident and excited. Ace Clayton Kershaw had his longest, most effective start since missing 2 ½ months with a herniated disc in his lower back. Kershaw (12-3) went seven innings in his fourth start since coming off the disabled list, allowing no runs and three hits while striking out six and walking none. He threw 91 pitches while lowering his ERA to a league-leading 1.65.
The offense supported him with 14 runs, 13 hits, eight walks and a hit batter. Justin Turner had three singles and two walks and Joc Pederson, who came into Saturday night with the third-best OPS in the National League this month, also did not record an out, collecting a two-run single in the second, walking twice and getting plunked by a pitch.
Roberts and several teammates were also quick to applaud Josh Reddick, who displayed the kind of pop that made him such a sought-after player at the trade deadline. Reddick smacked an RBI double high of the center-field wall in the sixth inning and hit a grand slam deep to right in the seventh, the fourth of his career.
“Reddick looked really, really good tonight, so that was big,” Kershaw said.
Reddick struggled mightily with the Dodgers after coming over from the Oakland A’s on Aug. 1, hitting .161 that month with one double and no home runs in 25 games.
“The one thing that got me through was this team was winning in August and playing great baseball, so I’m not going to make it about myself,” Reddick said of the slump.
Turner, who went through his own tough stretch during the first two months of this season, pulled Reddick aside last month and reminded him of his own experience, and how quickly things can change.
“Just encouraged him and let him know Dave has all the confidence in the world in him, just like he does every other player, and we’re going to keep running him out there,” Turner said. “I think you’re seeing the Josh Reddick that we wanted, and the reason the front office went out and got him at the deadline.”
And so there will be no scoreboard watching on Sunday. The Dodgers just need to concentrate on winning their own game and, at the same time, giving the proper Dodger Stadium sendoff to Scully.
“I think we all probably would’ve rather just done it tonight, but we’ll make it work for a day-game celebration,” Kershaw said.