The Dodgers clinched a playoff spot on Monday night.
Actually, this time.
A day after the team believed it had locked up a postseason berth, Major League Baseball had to backtrack Monday morning, determining that there remained far-fetched but technically possible three- and four-way tiebreaker scenarios in which the Dodgers could lose the playoffs. — if they lost all 23 games remaining on their schedule.
“I’m pretty confident we’re not going to lose the rest of the way, 23 in a row,” coach Dave Roberts said before Monday’s game.
He was right.
With a 6-0 victory over the Arizona Diamondbacks, the Dodgers officially punched their ticket to October while cutting their magic number to clinch the National League West crown to one, giving them a shot at the division title with a win (or San Diego Padres loss) Tuesday night.
Before Sunday’s game in San Diego, the Dodgers had said all they needed was one more win to clinch a playoff spot — so they celebrated their victory in style that day.
They had a champagne toast at the club. They were given hats with a playoff patch on the side. An “X” appeared next to their name in the standings on the MLB website.
By Monday morning, however, the “X” was gone. The daily MLB playoff scenario news bulletin included the Dodgers once again. And a graphic tweeted by MLB’s official account Sunday congratulating the Dodgers was nowhere to be found.
Apparently, a previously ignored scenario had come to light – one in which the Dodgers would have to lose, the Milwaukee Brewers would have to win, the Padres would have to go at least 20-1, and the St. Louis Cardinals should go exactly 13-8.
“I don’t see that happening,” Roberts said.
The Dodgers’ bullpen didn’t seem too caught up in the situation either.
“I don’t think that was something that got a lot of attention for us,” pitcher Tyler Anderson said.
Mookie Betts echoed similar sentiments when asked how much he watched Monday’s saga.
“Ohhh, zero,” he replied.
Roberts found out while watching MLB Network Monday morning.
“Obviously, that was unfair overnight,” he said during his afternoon media briefing. “I really do not care. We’ll do it at some point.”
Indeed, he only had to wait until Monday night.
Anderson (15-3) powered the Dodgers (97-43) by shutting out the Diamondbacks (66-74) in seven innings, lowering his earned run average to 2.62 (fifth best among NL starters) with the fourth his start to at least seven scoreless innings this season.
“I didn’t think he had his best stuff tonight,” Roberts said. “But it just shows his competition and his will.”
The Dodgers lineup, meanwhile, did all the damage late.
After Diamondbacks rookie Ryne Nelson pitched six scoreless innings in his second career start, the Dodgers scored three runs in the seventh on Trace Thompson’s sacrifice fly and Cody Bellinger’s two-run double, his first extra-base hit since August 24.
Two innings later, Betts added a three-run home run that put the game out of reach and gave the Dodgers a chance to celebrate a solid postseason berth for the second straight day.
“I don’t know if that’s ever happened before,” Roberts joked.
“But it feels good.”
Tony Gonsolin is still hurting
A day after Tony Gonsolin threw his first bullpen session since suffering a forearm sprain late last month, Roberts said the right-hander was still struggling with pain.
“I wouldn’t say I’m totally encouraged or discouraged,” Roberts said. “I think it’s an everyday thing.”
Roberts said Gonsolin will have another session on Wednesday.
Is the coach still optimistic that Gonsolin — who was originally expected to miss only two starts — will be ready to start playoff games in October?
“Right now, I’m still confident,” Roberts said. “But obviously every day, every ‘pen that goes by that he’s not at full strength – a little less sure.’
Since mid-May, when his return from Tommy John surgery was interrupted by inflammation in his right forearm, right-hander Tommy Kahnle could be activated as soon as this week, Roberts said.
Right-handers Brusdar Graterol (elbow) and Yency Almonte (elbow) also continue to progress, Roberts said. Graterol will have a bullpen session Wednesday and Almonte will face live hitting that day.
Left-handers Danny Duffy and Victor González, however, were pulled from rehab assignments with triple-A Oklahoma City after Roberts said they weren’t progressing as expected, raising doubts about their returns this season.
Gavin Lux close to returning
Dodgers utility player Gavin Lux (neck) will pitch at the team’s neighboring facility at Camelback Ranch on Tuesday and could return to action this weekend.
This story originally appeared in the Los Angeles Times.