Dodgers Extend Division Lead Over Padres, Clinch Playoff Berth

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(USA TODAY Sports photo)

In what was perhaps their most meaningful series so far this season, the Dodgers handled rival San Diego in the three-game set two games to one, re-stretching their division lead to 3-1/2 games. In the process, they were the first major league club to clinch a berth in the 2020 postseason.

After righty Dinelson Lamet shut down Los Angeles in the series opener, the Dodgers struck back in the middle game on Tuesday behind Tony Gonsolin’s first win of the year. In finale’s 7-5 victory on Wednesday, Los Angeles employed an effective bullpen game behind another productive display of offense, especially from Will Smith.

The 25-year-old catcher delivered the biggest offensive blow of the game in the fifth inning when he took reliever Tim Hill to the base of the left-center field wall. The double scored both Mookie Betts and Justin Turner, stretching the Dodger lead to four. Smith is now hitting a very impressive .310 on the season.

AJ Pollock opened the game’s scoring with a solo liner over the center field wall to give the Dodgers a 1-0 lead. The blast was his 11th of the year.

However, the Padres retaliated in the bottom of the frame when Wil Myers scored on a Jason Castro double.

With the Dodgers up by six runs, Jurickson Profar cut the lead to four with a two-run homer over the right field wall in the seventh. One inning later, former Dodger Manny Machado shrunk the lead to three with a solo shot to center, his 14th of the season. A Profar single in the ninth closed the scoring for the day when Jorge Ona‘s run put San Diego within two.

Earlier in the week, the Dodgers intended to start Dustin May in the finale, but hours before the game skipper Dave Roberts announced that Brusdar Graterol would open the game, his second of the week.

Los Angeles ultimately used five total pitchers. May entered the game in the third inning and threw 5-1/3 frames, allowing three runs—one earned—on three hits and a walk while striking out five.

May was credited with his second win of the season. Pedro Baez posted his second save of the year after relieving Victor Gonzalez with one out in the ninth.

Adrian Morejon took the loss for San Diego.

Hours before the game, the Dodgers made a flurry of roster moves. Utility man Zach McKinstry was added to the big league roster after Joc Pederson was placed on the family medical emergency list. Moments later, the team recalled Josh Sborz when Caleb Ferguson was placed on the injured list.

Additionally, Joe Kelly was officially activated after serving his five-game suspension for his involvement in an incident late July against the Astros.

McKinstry made his MLB debut in the top of the ninth inning as a pinch hitter, striking out on five pitches against Emilio Pagan.

For the Dodgers, 10 games remain in the regular season.

10 thoughts on “Dodgers Extend Division Lead Over Padres, Clinch Playoff Berth

  1. Maybe someone could explain to me the logic in having May, a starter, being used in relief today instead of just starting the game.
    Does this indicate that they now consider him their fourth starter and that he might be used in relief in the first series where he wouldn’t get a start?

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    1. I head a suggestion several days back (can’t remember where) that Gonsolin and May might be considered being used as a tandem piggybacking each other in a prospective playoff game. I actually found it surprising. I’ll keep my eyes open to see if it surfaces again.

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      1. Based on Buehler’s blister problem, it might be better to consider piggybacking one of those two with him. He’s only getting one start before the playoffs (sometime next week) so he seems like the most likely to have problems going deep into a game.

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  2. Gonsolin did a great job the other day, I am very comfortable with him in the regular rotation. May yesterday was outstanding. The 2 run jack by Profar was on a hanger, and he did not throw many of those. Gonzalez looked good too. Baez, well Pedro in his second game off of the IL was a little better than in his first, but not the guy I would have brought in. I would have gone to Treinen who only threw 4 pitches the day before. They just do not seem to want to make us fans comfortable by having a clean 9th. There is a question, at least Doc seemed to think so, as to whether Ferguson is going to have surgery or not. At least before the season ends. I don’t know why he would even consider not having it. Will Smith has proved he should be the #1 catcher. He has improved his game greatly in the last few weeks, and still is hitting the ball harder and more consistently than most players on the team. Don’t look now, but Seager is in a mini slump. He is 5-30 over his last 7 games with a homer and 3 ribbies, and his BA has dropped to .301.

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    1. Ferguson is done. Surgery is up to him of course, and I assume he will have it. He was too close to stardom not to give it another try. He might want to think about a Tanana approach when he comes back. You don’t have to throw 95+ to get hitters out.

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