Dodgers rout Rockies to clinch home-field advantage in wild card
There will be playoff baseball at Dodger Stadium this fall — officially.
With a 15-6 rout of the Colorado Rockies on Friday in Denver, the Dodgers clinched home-field advantage in the best-of-three wild-card round, the only stage of the postseason that won’t be held at a neutral site bubble.
“We love playing at home, albeit without fans,” manager Dave Roberts said. “That’s a good thing. The guys earned that. We’ve got to finish off playing good baseball though.”
The Dodgers (37-15) have done so this week, winning four in a row to lower their magic number for an NL West title and top seed in the National League to four.
On Friday, their offense scored a season high in runs against an overmatched Rockies team quickly fading from postseason contention.
“The whole team kind of went crazy,” Cody Bellinger said during a postgame television interview. “The whole team was performing well.”
Julio Urías once again struggled in the first inning during against the Colorado Rockies before bouncing back nicely in the Dodgers’ 9-3 win.
Bellinger opened the scoring with a two-run homer in the second. Three at-bats later, Gavin Lux doubled the lead with a 453-foot two-run blast, the longest by a Dodgers hitter this season.
In a five-run fifth, Chris Taylor drove in two runs on a bases-loaded single before Max Muncy, Bellinger (who finished a triple short of the cycle) and AJ Pollock drove in three more with consecutive RBI base hits.
Mookie Betts then belted his 16th home run of the season over the wall in left in the sixth inning. He is tied for the National League lead in home runs. In the seventh, Betts tripled home two more as part of a four-run inning.
“You can’t just turn it on in the playoffs,” Betts said.
“You’ve got to play throughout the season the same way you’re going to play in the playoffs. That way nothing is new when the time comes.”
Friday would be a good template to follow, as the Dodgers were both consistent (all nine starters recorded a hit and eight had an RBI) and clutch (eight for 14 with runners in scoring position); patient (four walks and one hit by pitch to only three strikeouts) yet powerful (seven extra-base hits).
“I don’t think we gave away any at-bats tonight,” Roberts said. “When we can do that collectively, I don’t think there’s anybody better.”
Josh Fuentes hit a three-run second-inning homer off starter Alex Wood to briefly make it a one-run game. But by the time the Rockies (22-28) scored again, hanging three runs on Dylan Floro in the bottom of the sixth, the Dodgers’ lead was already out of reach.
Their advantage in the NL West is starting to look the same. Since losing a series opener to the second-place Padres on Monday, the Dodgers’ four straight wins have all come against division opponents and by a combined score of 34-15.
“It’s time to go and our guys understand that,” Roberts said with the wild-card round opener just 12 days away. “I think you can see the focus, the intensity has heightened over the last few days. We wanted to come in here and play well. We’ve got an off day and then we have six more games. I expect nothing else.”
Austin Barnes will catch Clayton Kershaw’s start Saturday. Barnes has been behind the plate for all but one of Kershaw’s eight previous starts this season. “The synergy that he and Austin have, I think it’s real,” Roberts said. “This is a four-year history they’ve built. They think along the same lines.”
Roberts gave Justin Turner the night off Friday and will have him at designated hitter again Saturday. Turner has yet to play in the field since returning Tuesday from a stint on the injured list because of a left hamstring strain.
Right-hander Mitch White earned his first career win Friday after being recalled earlier in the day. Fellow right-hander Josh Sborz was optioned for the fifth time this year, including spring training.
Harris reported from Los Angeles.
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