Wednesday, September 11, 2013
Chances of clinching at home take a serious hit
By Mark Saxon
LOS ANGELES -- The Los Angeles Dodgers lead the major leagues in attendance, which is another way of saying they're back to being the Dodgers.
With seven home dates left, they have had more than 3.37 million fans buy tickets to their games. Since their dramatic uptick launched in June, those fans have provided some of the most raucous environments in baseball, helping to fuel dramatic victories.
Do the Dodgers want to clinch the NL West at home? Of course, says catcher A.J. Ellis. But it will be a long shot to do it by Sunday.
So, yeah, the Dodgers would love to celebrate their first division crown in four seasons on their home turf this weekend, with 50,000 fans enjoying it with them, but it might take one more dramatic late surge to pull that off.
Wednesday's 4-1 loss to the Arizona Diamondbacks guaranteed the earliest the Dodgers could clinch would be Sunday, and even that is a long shot.
If it doesn't happen by Sunday, it's sure to happen on the road. The Dodgers embark on a 10-game trip Monday in Arizona.
Dodgers catcher A.J. Ellis acknowledged that celebrating at home would be sweeter than clinching somewhere else, where the party would be respectfully confined to the clubhouse.
"Absolutely," he said. "The fan support this year has been unbelievable. They've been energizing us, and we've had so many full houses here that have carried us through some of these dramatic victories we've had.
"So, yeah, if we could find a way to finish it off this weekend, we'll feel fortunate."
That might be a motivating factor over the next few days, but chasing down the Atlanta Braves for the best record in the National League clearly is not. Both Ellis and manager Don Mattingly said they're not even thinking along those lines, and some of Mattingly's lineups lately have proved that.