While fans knew it would happen eventually, the Dodgers made a seventh consecutive division crown a reality on Thursday evening after defeating the Orioles 7-3 in Baltimore.
Corey Seager went 2-for-5 with two long balls and five RBI, shouldering the bulk of the offensive workload for the Boys in Blue. Both homers came off old foe Ty Blach, who lasted just 2-1/3 innings in his fifth start of the year. The blasts were Seager’s 15th and 16th of the season.
The series opener also saw rookie Gavin Lux bust out of a previous 1-for-15 slump. The 21-year-old Wisconsin native went 3-for-4, including his first big league home run—a solo shot over the right field wall in the top of the fifth inning that put Los Angeles up by seven.
Pitching-wise, starter Walker Buehler was absolutely brilliant. The righty threw seven shutout innings, allowing just four hits and no walks while striking out 11 opposing batters.
The victory improved Buehler’s record to 13-3, tying him with Clayton Kershaw for most wins on the team. Buehler also secured another milestone, his first-career season of 200 or more punchouts.
Casey Sadler pitched the eighth inning, but was unable to preserve the team shutout after allowing three runs—two earned—on three hits and a walk. The big blow came on a long ball to center field by DJ Stewart, his first of the year.
Caleb Ferguson threw a perfect ninth with one strikeout to seal the victory.
Blach’s record fell to 1-3. The six earned runs he surrendered moved his season ERA to a miserable 12.00.
The Dodgers will play in the postseason for the 33rd time in franchise history—the 24th time in Los Angeles—and for the ninth time over the last 12 years. Los Angeles previously won division titles in 1974, 1977, 1978, 1981, 1983, 1985, 1988, 1995, 2004, 2008, 2009 and 2013-18. In franchise history, the club has won six World Series championships and 23 National League pennants.
Los Angeles is just the third-ever team to win seven or more consecutive division titles, joining the New York Yankees with nine (1998-2006) and the Atlanta Braves with 14 (1991-2005). With Tuesday’s clinching victory, Dave Roberts, the Dodgers’ manager since 2016, became the first skipper in MLB history to lead his team to division titles in his first four full seasons as a big league manager.
The biggest battle right now continues to be with the Braves for home field advantage throughout the NL playoffs. Atlanta’s loss to Philadelphia on Tuesday evening pushed the Braves back to four full games behind the Dodgers.