Tuesday, September 17, 2013
Dodgers one win away from winning the West
By Mark Saxon
PHOENIX – Somewhere in Southern California, a delivery truck driver just turned over the engine.
Among the items the driver will be carrying through the desert are cases and cases of booze paid for by the Los Angeles Dodgers. It's not the cheap stuff this year, though 80 percent of it will end up drenching jerseys or seeping into the carpet. They'll be pouring Korbel, a California bubbly that retails for about $11 a bottle.
And the Dodgers might be enjoying it as early as Wednesday evening. That's how close they are to clinching their first postseason berth in four years.
They shook off a four-game losing streak to beat the Arizona Diamondbacks 9-3 Tuesday night at Chase Field, reducing their magic number to win the NL West to just two. They play two more games before leaving the desert for San Diego and, if they win one, their last nine or 10 games will border on meaningless. In a good way.
No wonder they finally looked like the Dodgers of July and August, not the Dodgers of May. They had their players back.
Hanley Ramirez started his first game in five days, the irritated nerve in his back apparently sufficiently healed. Matt Kemp started his first game in nearly two months, his ankle and hamstring apparently sufficiently healed.
The Dodgers, punchless for the past two weeks, hit four extra-base hits off Arizona's best starting pitcher, Patrick Corbin. Kemp mashed a pair of doubles, one of them soaring off the center-field wall, and didn't have to run too hard on his leg because neither play was close. He was 4-for-4, suggesting he just might be able to contribute to this charmed Dodgers season after all the pain and therapy his season has consisted of.
Ramirez singled in his first live swing in nearly a week. He also walked three times. If his back and his hamstring hold, he and the other Dodgers hitters could be a lot for a pitcher to contend with once the playoffs begin.
Zack Greinke (15-4) easily pitched well enough to protect the big early lead he got. Greinke hasn't given up more than two runs in a start since July 25.
It all kind of left the impression that the Dodgers' inability to sew up the West in a timely matter was more a talent issue, created by injuries, than a pressure issue.
If they really are back for good -- and Andre Ethier could add to the mix in the next couple of days -- it shouldn't be long before they pop those corks. They might as well. It's all paid for.