Sunday, September 14, 2008

Weekend Wrap-Up: Dodgers' Magic Number = 10

The Dodgers gained a game over the weekend by winning the series against the Rockies two games to one, while the Diamondbacks lost its series against Cincinnati one game to two.

From the Dodgers' perspective, things were rolling in games one and two at Coors Field, thanks to timely hitting, great starting performances from youngsters Chad Billingsley and Clayton Kershaw, and solid games from the bullpen. Most notable in this was Cory Wade's performance Friday, in which he entered with the tying run at the plate and a runner at second, and got the ground out to end the threat, before coming out again in the eighth inning to dispatch the side without incident.

The Dodgers' only loss came today in which the team seemed determined not to let pitcher Greg Maddux get sole possession of eighth place on the all-time victories list. Despite a gem of a performance by Maddux, the Dodgers fell in 10 when Hong-Chih Kuo finally let the only run of the game in to score for the Rockies (that's right, the Dodgers were strangely shut out at Coors Field).

But the Dodgers' loss ended up not costing the squad any ground in its NL West hunt, as the Diamondbacks ended up falling to the Reds hours later, 2-1. What's amazing about this is it marked the second straight game that the Snakes dropped to the Reds in extra innings--this, after dropping two of three in its prior series in San Francisco in the ninth inning (AZ was swept by SF). Arizona is truly snakebitten here, having lost 15 of its last 19, with the "surging Giants" are coming into Phoenix for four games.

Dodger fans had gotten so used to a September swoon that it's sort of strange to see this not happening to us for a change. We remain 4.5 games ahead of Arizona.

The Dodgers, meanwhile, play four in Pittsburgh against a Pirate team that just swept the St. Louis Cardinals virtually out of postseason contention. Former Dodger Andy LaRoche went 3-for-4 Sunday but is batting .175; I'm sure both LaRoche brothers will be primed for revenge starting Monday.

So where does this weekend leave the Dodgers? Our magic number is 10, with 13 games to play (AZ has 14). Our odds of making the postseason are now up to a crazy 98%. And the threat of seeing Andruw Jones in another lineup has finally subsided.

But I'm not comfortable at all, not yet. As Jon wrote Friday, Division leads come and go. Stay vigilant. True that. Let's get this divisional title secured, Joe Torre, and then you can go make all the crazy lineup decisions you want until the postseason starts...