Dodgers: Last in July, first to clinch?

Juan Uribe, left, celebrates his home run with Hanley Ramirez during the Dodgers' 8-1 victory over Arizona.
(Jae C. Hong / Associated Press)

The Dodgers’ stunning last-to-first season could add a remarkable dimension: A team marooned in last place at the start of July could be the first to clinch a playoff berth.

The Dodgers open play Tuesday with a magic number of 8. The Atlanta Braves also have a magic number of 8. No team has a lower magic number.


But the Dodgers can reduce their magic number more quickly, because they play the second-place team in their division -- the Arizona Diamondbacks -- Tuesday and Wednesday. Each Dodgers victory is a Diamondbacks loss, lowering the magic number by two.

The Dodgers were in last place in the National League West on July 1, when the Braves held a six-game lead in the National League East. Little did anyone know that the Dodgers’ modest hot streak would blossom into a 42-8 run, making them the first team since the 1942 St. Louis Cardinals to win 42 of 50 games.

The magic numbers for the other division leaders, entering play Tuesday: 12 for the Boston Red Sox in the AL East, 15 for the Detroit Tigers in the AL Central, 18 for the Oakland Athletics in the AL West, 19 for the St. Louis Cardinals in the NL Central.