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The Sports Report: The Dodgers and Shohei Ohtani are a perfect match despite injuries

Projected 2024 Dodgers baseball cards feature two-way star Shohei Ohtani.
(Photos by Associated Press. Illustration by Tim Hubbard / Los Angeles Times)
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Howdy, I’m your host, Iliana Limón Romero, filling in for Houston Mitchell, who’s probably enjoying Brady Bunch reruns. Let’s get right to the news.

From Dylan Hernández: As the Dodgers were Saving for Shohei this year, something unexpected happened. They ran away with the National League West. They might not have the starting pitching to win the World Series, but they could secure their 10th division title in 11 years as early as this weekend.

The Dodgers didn’t need Shohei Ohtani to reach the playoffs and they won’t need him to do so again next season.

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Which is precisely why they’re the most logical destination for Ohtani when he becomes a free agent this winter.

They won’t overburden him the way the Angels have, or the way many other teams would. The Dodgers can provide him with the expertise required for him to return to the mound and the environment necessary for him to remain on the field once he does. They also can provide him with a career-defining challenge, as they have an extensive history of postseason failure they’re looking to rewrite.

Ohtani has a torn ulnar collateral ligament and is unlikely to pitch next year, but the Dodgers remain interested in pursuing him this offseason, according to people familiar with the team’s thinking who spoke under the condition of anonymity because they weren’t authorized to discuss the subject.

The 29-year-old has been guarded about what he’s looking for in free agency, but his agent said last week that being a two-way player again is a main priority. The Dodgers can make that happen, and they’re distinctly positioned to do so without compromising their October ambitions.

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DODGERS

The Dodgers' Mookie Betts steals second as Padres shortstop Ha-Seong Kim takes a late throw
Mookie Betts steals second as Padres shortstop Ha-Seong Kim takes a late throw while second base umpire Cory Blazer watches. Betts’ first-inning single was the Dodgers’ only hit off Blake Snell.
(Mark J. Terrill / Associated Press)

From Mike DiGiovanna: If Blake Snell is the caliber of ace the Dodgers will have to find a way to beat in the playoffs, then Wednesday night’s game doesn’t bode well for their World Series hopes.

Mookie Betts led off the first inning with a bloop single to left-center field, and the Dodgers didn’t get another hit off the veteran left-hander in a 6-1 loss to the San Diego Padres before a crowd of 41,810 in Chavez Ravine.

Snell, mixing a lively 96-mph fastball with a curve, changeup and slider, burnished his National League Cy Young Award credentials with a six-inning, one-hit, eight-strikeout, one-walk effort that improved him to 14-9 with a league-best 2.43 ERA.

Snell’s 217 strikeouts rank second in the NL behind Atlanta ace Spencer Strider (259), and he leads the majors in opponents’ batting average (.187). Betts, who also walked in the third, was the only Dodger to reach base against Snell.

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“I mean, sometimes there’s nothing you can do,” Dodgers left fielder Chris Taylor said, when asked how the Dodgers can beat guys like Snell in October. “I feel like we’ve done pretty well grinding guys down, but tonight, he was just good.

“He had all his pitches working. He’s having a good year for a reason — he’s got great stuff, and when he can throw any pitch in any count, it makes it tough.”

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DODGERS BOX SCORE

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ANGELS

The Angels' Matt Thaiss reacts after striking out against Mariners starting pitcher Luis Castillo
The Angels’ Matt Thaiss reacts after striking out against Mariners starting pitcher Luis Castillo to end the top of the sixth inning Wednesday in Seattle.
(Lindsey Wasson / Associated Press)

From the Associated Press: Julio Rodríguez hit a run-scoring double and later scored the tiebreaking run after drawing an intentional walk, leading the playoff-contending Seattle Mariners to a 3-2 win over the Angels on Wednesday.

Luis Castillo added six strong innings for the Mariners, who rebounded from Monday’s extra-innings loss to take two of three from the Angels.

Seattle kept pace in the AL West and AL wild-card races, with Houston, Texas and Toronto in action later Wednesday.

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ANGELS BOX SCORE

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ALL BOX SCORES

MLB STANDINGS

WILD CARD STANDINGS

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CHARGERS

Dolphins receiver Tyreek Hill catches a pass near the goal line as Chargers cornerback J.C. Jackson pursues.
(Robert Gauthier/Los Angeles Times)
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From Jeff Miller: He surrendered only three receptions, but two went for 35 yards and the other for 29.

Add J.C. Jackson’s pass-interference penalty late in the first half, and Sunday was a rocky return for the Chargers cornerback.

On Wednesday, in his first public comments since his team’s season-opening 36-34 loss to Miami, Jackson took responsibility for his most glaring error, the 30-yard, second-quarter infraction that allowed the Dolphins to kick a field goal with no time left.

After Miami took over at its 25-yard line nine seconds before halftime, its lone chance to score before the break required a major Chargers miscue.

Quarterback Tua Tagovailoa connected with receiver Jaylen Waddle for 22 yards and then launched a desperate heave into the middle of the field in the area of the Chargers’ 20-yard line as time expired.

Jackson used both hands to shove Dolphins receiver Erik Ezukanma in the back, resulting in the penalty. Miami’s Jason Sanders booted a 41-yard field goal and, instead of being tied at the half, the Chargers trailed 20-17.

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RAMS

Irvine, CA - July 27: Rams quarterback Stetson Bennett passes the ball during Rams training camp.
Rams quarterback Stetson Bennett throws during training camp.
(Allen J. Schaben/Los Angeles Times)

From Gary Klein: The Rams drafted Stetson Bennett to be Matthew Stafford’s backup this season and possible successor down the road.

But those plans took another unexpected turn Wednesday.

Bennett was placed on the non-football injury list, coach Sean McVay said, declining to disclose details.

“Out of respect for him and the situation I’m going to leave all the specifics and particulars in house,” said McVay, whose team is preparing for a game against the San Francisco 49ers on Sunday at SoFi Stadium.

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SOCCER

Tatum Wynalda, front, controls the ball while playing for the Pepperdine soccer team.
(Courtesy of Jerry Harris / Pepperdine University Athletics)

From Kevin Baxter: The weight of her soccer jersey, Tatum Wynalda once told her father, is sometimes too heavy to carry. Yet it’s not so much the shirt as the name that goes with it that’s the problem.

Eric Wynalda was one of the greatest players in U.S. Soccer history, a hall of famer who appeared in three World Cups and still ranks among the top six all-time in goals and assists. That’s a tough act to follow.

“My name is part of the game at this point,” said Tatum, a sophomore at Pepperdine. “It’s been kind of a difficult ride; people find a hard time, almost, differentiating me from my dad. [It’s] a process I’m currently on, just establishing my own identity and showing people that I’m Tatum.

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“I’m not just Eric Wynalda’s daughter.”

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HIGH SCHOOLS

From defensive end Richard Wesley (99) of Sierra Canyon had three sacks against Oaks Christian.
(Craig Weston)

From Eric Sondheimer: Richard Wesley turned 15 on Friday. He’s a 6-foot-5, 235-pound freshman defensive end at Sierra Canyon High. It’s scary to think what kind of football player he might be when he’s 18 or even 21.

“Oh, man, just an impressive player,” JSerra coach Victor Santa Cruz said after his team was the victim of three sacks by Wesley.

“I thought he was a great athlete and can really run,” Oaks Christian coach Charlie Collins said after his team gave up three sacks to Wesley.

For those who know the story of Dr. Frankenstein, who created a monster in a laboratory, get ready for a new monster of the football field. Wesley wants to be a combination of Aaron Donald and Von Miller, two future Hall of Famers.

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Get ready for the football monster named VonDonald.

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THIS DATE IN SPORTS

1923 — Jack Dempsey knocks out Luis Firpo in the second round for his last successful defense of his world heavyweight title, at Madison Square Garden in New York.

1947 — Jack Kramer beats Frank Parket to win the U.S. Lawn Tennis Association championship. Kramer wins 4-6, 2-6, 6-1, 6-0, 6-3.

1959 — The new $32 million Aqueduct, operated by the New York Racing Association, opens.

1968 — Jimmy Ellis wins the WBA heavyweight title by beating Floyd Patterson in the 15th round in Stockholm, Sweden.

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1986 — Chicago’s Walter Payton rushes for 177 yards, to reach the 15,000-yard plateau and scores his 100th career rushing touchdown as the Bears beat the Philadelphia Eagles 13-10.

1987 — Cal Ripken Jr.’s record streak of 8,243 consecutive innings (908 games) is finally broken.

1991 — Freshman Marshall Faulk of San Diego State rushes for an NCAA record 386 yards and scores seven touchdowns in his second collegiate game. Faulk sets an NCAA record for most rushing touchdowns in a game by a freshman as the Aztecs beat Pacific 55-34.

1991 — Texas A&M freshman Greg Hill has the greatest debut by a freshman running back in college football history as the Aggies rout LSU 45-7. Hill sets a major college record with 212 yards rushing in his first game and scores twice on 30 carries.

1994 — The baseball season, already shut down by a monthlong strike, is canceled along with the World Series in a vote by 26 of the 28 teams.

2002 — Tim Montgomery of the United States sets a world record in the 100 meters, clocking 9.78 seconds at the IAAF Grand Prix Final in Paris. The previous world record of 9.79 was set by fellow American Maurice Greene in 1999.

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2003 — Jamal Lewis rushes for an NFL-record 295 yards on 30 carries in Baltimore’s 33-13 victory over Cleveland.

2006 — Tiger Woods’ five-tournament winning streak finally ends when Shaun Micheel knocks him out in the first round of the World Match Play Championship. The score was 4 and 3, matching Woods’ worst loss in match play.

2010 — Reggie Bush announces he is forfeiting his Heisman Trophy. The running back releases a statement saying he would give back the award that he won in 2005 while he was at Southern California. It’s the first time college football’s top award is returned by a recipient.

2011 — The Pittsburgh pirates clinches its 19th consecutive losing season, a record for a major league franchise in North America, losing to the St. Louis Cardinals 3-2.

2014 — Mirjana Lucic-Baroni beats Venus Williams 6-4, 6-3 to win the Coupe Banque Nationale and set the record for the biggest gap between WTA titles. Lucic-Baroni wins her third WTA title and first in 16 years and four months.

2014 — New England’s Bill Belichick becomes the sixth head coach in NFL history to reach 200 regular-season wins with a 30-7 victory over the Minnesota Vikings. Belichick has a 200-106 (.654) record in the regular season.

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— Compiled by the Associated Press

And finally

Watch Bucs quarterback Baker Mayfield take a shot at the cheating Astros while answering a question about picking up the Vikings’ defensive signals.

Until next time...

That concludes today’s newsletter. If you have any feedback, ideas for improvement or things you’d like to see, email me at houston.mitchell@latimes.com, and follow me on Twitter at @latimeshouston. To get this newsletter in your inbox, click here.

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