At this point in the Dodgers’ season, fixation on one particular game, or even one series, feels myopic. The team owns a double-digit lead in the National League West. They burnish the sport’s best record almost every night. All is prologue until the playoffs.
“Our goal,” manager Dave Roberts said before a 6-4 victory over the San Francisco Giants on Friday, “is to win 11 games in October.”
Two months remain between now and then. The threat of tedium looms. Yet until October arrives, there are still so many moments to savor for fans of this club. Take the bottom of the seventh inning Friday, as a majestic drive soared off the bat of Corey Seager and toward the fence in right field.
Backpedaling was Giants outfielder Hunter Pence. He retreated and retreated until he could go no farther. When Pence stopped moving, when it became clear Seager’s go-ahead, two-run shot couldn’t be stopped, the crowd at Dodger Stadium erupted. The comebacks, the rallies, the victories night after night — they can look repetitive from afar. But inside this clubhouse, inside this stadium, the joy is still palpable.
Seager atoned for an error earlier in the inning by supplying his second multi-homer of the game of the season as the Dodgers (72-31) increased their latest winning streak to six games. After Alex Wood yielded three runs in the top of the seventh, undone by some defense behind him, the offense roared back against the rickety Giants staff.
Austin Barnes walked against Giants starter Matt Moore to open the flurry. Joc Pederson doubled. Yasiel Puig provided an RBI groundout against reliever George Kontos. Chris Taylor doubled off Kontos to tie the score. When reliever Josh Osich hung a slider, Seager made it disappear.
“It literally is a different guy every night,” Wood said. “Tonight it was Corey. He’s special, man. It was a lot of fun to watch.”
Dodgers shortstop Corey Seage leaps to catch a line drive against the Giants in the first inning.(Gina Ferazzi / Los Angeles Times)
Dodgers fans cheer after another fan caught a solo home run by shortstop Corey Seager during the first inning against the Giants.(Gina Ferazzi / Los Angeles Times)
Dodgers starting pitcher Alex Wood pops up a bunt for an out against the Giants in the third inning.(Gina Ferazzi / Los Angeles Times)
Dodgers starting pitcher Alex Wood surrendered only one run through six innings against the Giants before a rocky seventh.(Gina Ferazzi / Los Angeles Times)
Giants third baseman Jae-Gyun Hwang beats the tag from Dodgers catcher Austin Barnes to score the go-ahead run in the seventh inning.(Gina Ferazzi / Los Angeles Times)
Dodgers centerfielder Joc Pederson scores the tying run against the Giants on a double by Chris Taylor during the seventh inning.(Gina Ferazzi / Los Angeles Times)
Dodgers shortstop Corey Seager connects for a two-run home run against the Giants in the bottom of the seventh inning Friday.(Gina Ferazzi / Los Angeles Times)
Dodgers shortstop Corey Seager reacts as he round first base after hitting his second homer of the night against the Giants.(Gina Ferazzi / Los Angeles Times)
Dodgers fans celebrate after Corey Seager hit his second home run of the night.(Gina Ferazzi / Los Angeles Times)
Corey Seager celebrates with the Dodgers bench after blasting his second home run of the night against the Giants in the seventh inning.(Gina Ferazzi / Los Angeles Times)
During Roberts’ pre-game scrum with reporters, there were few questions asked about the series with San Francisco. Roberts expressed cautious optimism about Clayton Kershaw, who played catch in the afternoon six days after straining his back. He insisted his front office was “working their tails off” to improve the team by Monday’s trade deadline. Roberts brushed aside the suggestion that a team can peak too early.
Roberts also embraced a prediction by one of his bosses — his only boss with five NBA championships on his resume. On Thursday evening, while attending Kershaw’s annual charity ping-pong tournament, Magic Johnson set his hopes high for the team he co-owns.
“The Dodgers are going to win the World Series,” Johnson said. “This is our year.”
Roberts did not blanch at the bravado.
“I agree with Magic,” Roberts said. “If Magic says it, then I take it as law. He doesn’t have a Major League Baseball championship ring, but he’s got enough fingers to take on another ring.”
The journey will not be complete for a few more months. Until then, the Dodgers are trying to maintain momentum through the long summer. On Friday, they hoped for a revival from Wood after his rockiest outing of the season, when he gave up nine runs to Atlanta.
The teams traded solo homers early. Seager belted a first-pitch fastball from Moore in the first. Giants shortstop Brandon Crawford tied the game in the second.
He tried to squeeze a bunt down the third base line, but the ball trickled foul. He fouled off another attempt. With the count full, Wood squared up to bunt, only to shift into swing mode moments before Moore threw. Pederson left early to avoid the double play — which proved vital, when Wood chopped the ball toward Crawford.
Crawford looked to second, but Pederson was already there. The throw beat Wood to first, but Barnes was safe and the Dodgers took the lead.
Once again, it was not safe for long. A single by Buster Posey started the seventh. Wood induced a grounder from Crawford, and Logan Forsythe fed Seager for an out at second base. Trying to turn two, Seager lost control of the baseball and spiked it in the dirt.
The Giants pounced on the opportunity. They strung together three runs before Wood could escape. Seager lamented his mistake as he returned to the dugout.
“That one was hard to move on from,” Seager said — except he managed to do so with one swing in the bottom of the inning.
“That helps a lot,” Seager said, as he cracked a grin, enjoying another Dodgers victory.