It’s right there now, so close it has a scent, clear and unmistakable.
The Dodgers’ magic number for clinching the National League West is down to six, with 18 games to play.
“It’s nice to say it feels kind of inevitable,” said catcher A.J. Ellis.
The Arizona Diamondbacks were the last team to cling to the dream of overtaking the Dodgers. They came into Dodger Stadium for a three-game series Monday hoping a sweep would leave them within striking distance.
Instead, the Dodgers have won the first two games and pushed the Diamondbacks 13 games back. Their spirits must be flagging.
But for the Dodgers, their first postseason in four years has never seemed so certain.
“I think everybody is excited about it right now,” said outfielder Scott Van Slyke. “Obviously we’re on a roll and we want to keep being on a roll and winning games. I think our attitude is going to be the same if we’re fortunate enough to clinch.”
There is still the chance to chase down the Braves for the league’s best overall record. Atlanta remains two games ahead of the Dodgers for the N.L.’s top record. So even after they clinch the West, there is still something to motivate, to keep them playing at a high level and not relaxing.
“I think our team is strong enough and we have quality of character that we can focus on the task at hand and the present, while also being mindful of the bigger picture that we’re pretty confident we’ll be a part of it,” Ellis said.
Seven months ago the Dodgers gathered in Phoenix to begin spring training, to begin baseball’s long quest of advancing to the postseason. And now it is within reach, it is right there for the taking.