LOS ANGELES With two games left in the 2018 season, the Dodgers still hold second place in the National League West. The Colorado Rockies started the final weekend with a one-game lead in the division standings. The teams were tied till Monday.
The rest is recent history. A special one-game playoff determined which team won the division and which team advanced to the National League wild card game. Manager Dave Roberts said on Tuesday that the Dodgers ultimately won, a move that is still relevant three years later.
“If we get (another game 163) it’s good to know we’re in that kind of situation and get to the other side,” Roberts said. “It is important to have experience, to be successful under pressure, stressful situations.”
The Dodgers trailed the San Francisco Giants by two games for the division lead in their final homestand of the season. It’s an uncomfortable situation for the team that won the National League West for eight consecutive years. No other challenger has won the division title since 2012, when the Giants claimed first place on their way to a World Series victory.
Since then, it’s tempting to conclude that the Dodgers haven’t faced a similar challenge to them this week. But seven players who participated in the Dodgers’ last game 163 are still on their active roster.
This includes pitcher Walker Buehler, who played a 6-inch shutout innings against the Rockies on October 1, 2018. Buehler made his series debut against the San Diego Padres on Tuesday night. Max Schaezer is set to pitch a possible game 163 if needed, with Buehler following the postseason opener.
Then like now, viewing the scoreboard is a daily ritual for the players. It wasn’t a distraction then, and Roberts doesn’t believe it will turn them away now.
“I feel like continuing to take it day in and day out,” he said. “That mindset, that process, has proven to be beneficial.”
Pujol, Bellinger Returns for IL
The Dodgers removed outfielder Cody Bellinger from the injured list and placed first baseman Albert Pujols on the injured list.
Roberts said Pujols recently received his second COVID-19 vaccination “and did not feel well after receiving it, as far as playing in a major league game is concerned.”
Since there is no minimum required stoppage on IL related to COVID-19, Pujols is eligible to be activated early Wednesday. He has been batting .255 with 12 home runs and 38 RBIs in 82 matches since joining the Dodgers in May.
Bellinger missed eight games after being placed on the IL with a left rib fracture on 18 September. Roberts said the 26-year-old is “not 100 percent, but she is close to it.”
Gavin Lux started in the middle field over Bellinger, who has been scoring .159 in an injury-prone season.
Roberts said Chris Taylor, who missed a neck injury earlier this month caught a pair of diving catches in Phoenix on Friday, has made a full recovery from the injury. “I think we’re out of the woods,” he said. … The Dodgers will not face Padres reliever Craig Stamen this week. The right-hander was placed on the injured list prior to the game for unspecified reasons. Stamen has allowed only two hits in 30 at-bats against the Dodgers this season, but both resulted in home runs. One, a three-run homer by Mookie Bates gave the Dodgers a 5–4 victory at Dodger Stadium on September 11. … The Dodgers wore their fully blue “City Connect” uniforms for the last time this season on Monday.
The Dodgers (RHP Max Scherzer, 15-4, 2.28 ERA) vs. San Diego (TBA), Wednesday, 7 p.m., Sportsnet LA, ESPN, 570 AM