The Dodgers became the second team to clinch a postseason berth in 2021, officially extending their streak of playoff appearances to nine seasons, with their 8-4 win over the Arizona Diamondbacks at Dodger Stadium on Tuesday.
It’s a checkpoint just 10 of 30 clubs will reach. They rather would have waited another day.
The Dodgers sealed their spot Tuesday because the San Diego Padres lost to the San Francisco Giants, the club the Dodgers are still chasing for the coveted National League West title. As a result, instead of gaining a game on the Giants in the standings, the Dodgers remained 2 1/2 games behind their rivals to the north in the division race with 16 games remaining in the regular season.
The day began with the Dodgers (93-53) needing a win and losses from two of the Padres, the Cincinnati Reds and the St. Louis Cardinals. The Reds were the first to oblige, falling to the Pittsburgh Pirates. The Cardinals then toppled the New York Mets in 11 innings. The plummeting Padres later lost their fifth straight game, handing the Giants their ninth consecutive win.
As it stands, the Dodgers, owners of the second-best record in the majors, would play against the Cardinals in the do-or-die wild-card game at Dodger Stadium on Oct. 6. St. Louis resides 17 games behind them in the standings.
The Dodgers, for all their success this season, haven’t constructed many games by the book like Tuesday’s victory. Their offense thumped, clubbing three home runs, and continued tacking on runs after an early outburst. On the mound, they used a No. 5 starter to complete a turn through a five-man rotation for the first time in months to post their fifth win in a row.
That starter was Tony Gonsolin, who recorded his best outing of the season. The right-hander had been handcuffed by high pitch counts in nearly all of his first 11 starts this season.
On Tuesday, in his second outing since coming off the injured list, he retired the first six batters in order on just 20 pitches. He ended up throwing 67 pitches over five scoreless innings. He gave up two hits, walked two and struck out six.
Gonsolin’s performance, a night after Clayton Kershaw’s return from the injured list, concluded a dominant turn through the rotation. Julio Urías, Walker Buehler, Max Scherzer, Kershaw and Gonsolin combined to hold opponents to three runs with 32 strikeouts over 31 1/3 innings.
The Dodgers gave Gonsolin a lead in the first inning on back-to-back doubles off Arizona right-hander Luke Weaver by Max Muncy and Trea Turner. Muncy, using Albert Pujols’ bat, crushed a two-run home run in the third inning. Turner cracked a solo home run in the fifth inning and Will Smith blasted one in the sixth.