SAN FRANCISCO — The Los Angeles Dodgers might have traveled 2,000 miles farther than they originally planned and waited a week longer than they originally hoped, but they found a perfect locale to celebrate another National League West title: their rival’s stadium.
The Dodgers clinched their third straight NL West crown with an 8-0 win over the San Francisco Giants at AT&T Park Tuesday night, the result of another brilliant outing by Clayton Kershaw, who pitched a complete-game one-hitter and struck out 13 batters. The Dodgers became the last of the five National League postseason teams to clinch, with Tuesday’s win snapping a four-game losing streak. The Dodgers will play the New York Mets in the National League Division Series.
After Corey Seager threw out Kelby Tomlinson to end it, Kershaw thrust his arms in the sky and the Dodgers poured out of the dugout to celebrate, bobbing around near the mound for a while before donning their gray NL West champion T-shirts and taking the party inside. The Giants posted a message on the center-field video board that said, “Congratulations L.A. Dodgers! #RespectTheRivalry.”
How it happened: The only hit off Kershaw was Kevin Frandsen’s looping line drive to right field in the third inning. Kershaw walked one and retired the final 19 batters in a row to end the game. He was efficient for the first four innings. Then, he turned downright belligerent, striking out the side in both the fifth and sixth innings.
Kershaw picked a good time to finally get the better of Madison Bumgarner after the Giants had won each of their previous three head-to-head matchups. The Dodgers were lucky to score their first run off Bumgarner. A first-inning rally was aided by Tomlinson’s error on a Howie Kendrick grounder.
But there was nothing lucky about their next three runs off the Giants’ ace. They were all solo home runs. Enrique Hernandez hit one in the third inning and Justin Ruggiano and A.J. Ellis went back-to-back in the sixth.
Oddly, it was Kershaw’s 13-pitch at-bat in the fifth inning that helped elevate Bumgarner’s pitch count and may have led to some fatigue the following inning. After Kershaw finally grounded out, Bumgarner erupted, yelling something and clenching his fists.
What it means: The Dodgers bought themselves five extra days to rest up for the postseason, but they might not want to rest too many players. They gained a game on the Mets in the battle for home-field advantage in the first round of the playoffs. If the Dodgers can make up two games in their final five, they would open the playoffs Oct. 9 at Dodger Stadium. Otherwise, the series will open at Citi Field.
Notable: Hernandez missed a month on the disabled list with a strained hamstring, but he has played with just as much hunger and effectiveness as before he was hurt. Since coming off the DL, Hernandez is 4-for-7. He is 5-for-10 with two doubles and a home run off Bumgarner in his career. … Kershaw has 294 strikeouts with one more start left, but he still might have a hard time becoming the first pitcher to reach 300 in a season since Randy Johnson in 2002. Why? Because the Dodgers are likely to use Sunday’s start as a tune-up for the playoffs and limit him to five innings or 75 pitches. … Rookie Corey Seager, who has supplanted Jimmy Rollins as the Dodgers’ primary shortstop, was 0-for-3 with two strikeouts against Bumgarner, but he had an RBI single in the eighth. Seager has reached base safely in all 23 of his major-league games. … Wednesday night’s game on ESPN is not blacked out in Southern California.