Dodgers Clinch West Title, if a Strike Begins on Friday : Baseball: They beat the Rockies, 6-2. Hershiser gets his sixth victory, but fears that it might be his last game for L.A.
If the players go on strike Friday as expected, this much is certain: The Dodgers, after beating the Colorado Rockies, 6-2, on Sunday, will be in sole possession of first place in the National League West.
What that means, if anything, remains unclear, but the Dodgers, who have been in first place for the past 85 days, say they will take it. The San Francisco Giants, having lost six games in a row, have fallen five games behind the Dodgers with three to play. The Dodgers have four games scheduled before Friday.
“You try not to make it seem like a do-or-die thing, but in reality, it is,” Delino DeShields said.
There was more uncertainty than the work stoppage looming for the Dodgers, though, as they took the field at Mile High Stadium before a sellout crowd of 70,372. Orel Hershiser, warming up before the game, wondered if it could be his last as a Dodger.
“When I pitched at home last time I was wondering if that could be the last time I pitch in Dodger Stadium and today, I wondered if it would be the last time I pitched as a Dodger, period,” said Hershiser, who is in the last year of his contract.
“I thought, ‘This is odd, this could be it.’ ”
But in the five innings that followed, Hershiser held the Rockies’ hitless, and that inspired another thought.
“I was thinking that if I threw a no-hitter, it wouldn’t be my last appearance as a Dodger, there would be a pretty good chance I might be back--or the Rockies might take me,” Hershiser said jokingly.
But in the sixth, after Hershiser (6-6) had retired eight in a row, Mike Kingery tripled over Brett Butler’s head in center field. Butler believed that he could play the ball off the wall, but instead the ball hit on the warning track.
“I shied off the ball and misread the fence,” Butler said. “I feel bad . . . I should have caught it, but when Charlie Hayes hit the next ball off the right-center fence for a double, I didn’t feel so bad.”
At that point, the Dodgers were ahead, 3-0, having scored twice in the first inning and once in the third against starter Greg Harris (3-12). Kingery scored on a groundout by Ellis Burks, with DeShields’ diving stop of the ball a key play because of Hayes’ ensuing double.
Meanwhile, Hershiser, who had pitched most of the game with one pitch--a fastball away--walked the leadoff hitter in the seventh, and was relieved by Ismael Valdes, who held the Rockies to one hit over two innings. Todd Worrell pitched the ninth and gave up one run.
In Hershiser’s first 10 starts this season he pitched at least six innings and gave up three earned runs or less, but all he had to show for it was a 3-1 record. The Dodgers, though, went on to win six of Hershiser’s first 10 starts.
“I only had one good pitch today, and they kept hitting it on the ground so I wasn’t going to change my formula,” said Hershiser, who was coming off of two consecutive losses.
“There wasn’t a lot of deception about what I was doing out there.”
Tim Wallach, who was three for four with a double against Harris, led off the eighth inning with a single and Eric Karros followed with a home run to left. Karros is nine for 20 with three home runs against Harris; Wallach is 12 for 32, also with three homers.
But Henry Rodriguez had accomplished virtually nothing against Harris, until the eighth. He followed Karros by hitting a 422-foot shot to right field, giving the Dodgers a 6-1 lead.
“I feel a hell of a lot better about how we have been playing,” Wallach said. “The way we were playing three or four weeks ago was awful. But we have been playing our best defensively, our pitching has been outstanding and our bullpen perfect and we are starting to swing the bats like we have the rest of the season.”
Since returning home a week ago Friday from a 3-10 trip, the Dodgers have won seven of their last nine games. Since then, the Giants and the Rockies have taken a tumble, with the Dodgers opening their largest lead in the division since the All-Star break.
“This is the best place to be if there is a work stoppage,” said Karros, who drove in three runs.