Published 9:23 PM EDT Oct 1, 2018
LOS ANGELES — With a 5-2 victory over the Colorado Rockies on Monday, the Los Angeles Dodgers became only the third franchise in baseball history to win a division title six consecutive years.
OK, props to the Dodgers for capturing the National League West Division and joining the New York Yankees (1998-2006) and the Atlanta Braves (1995-2005) as the only franchises to win at least six consecutive division titles. But with the Dodgers set to play the Atlanta Braves in a best-of-five divisional playoffs series starting Thursday, it’s World Series or bust.
The Dodgers haven’t won one since Kirk Gibson limped around the bases in 1988 – and they may finally sneak their way to a title this year. It's doubtful anyone is more confident than Yasiel Puig, the Dodgers’ boisterous, bat-flipping right fielder.
“We’re going to win the World Series,’’ Puig proclaimed during the champagne- and beer-soaked celebration in the locker room. “We’re bringing the 2018 championship here.’’
The Dodgers’ victory over the Rockies on Monday in the division tiebreaker showed why Puig, despite his propensity for beyond-bold talk, might be right.
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You want power? The Dodgers have power. The Dodgers jumped ahead of the Rockies with a pair of two-run homers and have finished the regular season with a single-season franchise record 235 home runs.
Good luck pitching around the Bronx Bombers of the West. The Dodgers have eight hitters with 20 or more home runs this season, including Max Muncy, who hit his 35th on Monday and Cody Bellinger, who hit No. 25 in the win.
You want pitching? The Dodgers got pitching. Walker Buehler, the Dodgers’ rookie sensation, pitched 6 ⅔ innings and limited the Rockies to one hit. We repeat: limited the Rockies to one hit.
Buehler backs up ace Clayton Kershaw, the three-time Cy Young award winner. If the Dodgers hope to win it all, Kershaw must avoid his annual postseason gag reflex.
Provided Kershaw avoids disaster, the Dodgers should have enough depth in the rotation and the bullpen considering they headed into Game 163 of the season Monday with overall ERA of 3.39, second best behind only the defending World Series champion Houston Astros.
You want momentum? You got it. The Dodgers have won 14 of their last 18 games – a .778 winning percentage – and went 18-9 in September.
Now the reality check: The Boston Red Sox, with 108 victories, and the Astros, are favorites to win it all. And who would bet on a team that’s failed to win a World Series in 31 years?
Anyone who’s not afraid to bet against the favorites, that’s who.
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