Despite a few false starts and MLB faux pas (how’d they get this wrong?!), the 2022 Los Angeles Dodgers “finally” clinched the NL West on Tuesday night in Arizona. A far cry from San Diego, but hey, a prime opportunity for a pool party, right?
Sorry, sorry. Don’t want to get into all this again. We’ll just be happy for ourselves.
Though the Dodgers’ typically-dominant offense once again did its part, putting up four runs on nine hits against the Diamondbacks’ sturdy Merrill Kelly and Arizona’s bullpen, it was Clayton Kershaw who really carried the day, setting off the fiesta with seven two-hit innings on just 82 pitches.
There was no reason to push a still-rehabbing Kershaw any further, but he could’ve recorded the final six outs with his eyes closed if Dave Roberts had let him.
Craig Kimbrel secured the final out officially, but Kershaw steered the train while renewing Dodgers fans’ hope about how sturdy a playoff rotation could look this fall, even without Walker Buehler. That gave the veteran left-hander every right to take over the postgame locker room celebration with a flex straight to camera.
Dodgers’ Clayton Kershaw flexed after beating Diamondbacks to clinch NL West
Tuesday’s celebration capped the remarkable ninth division title in the past 10 years for the Dodgers, only edged out once by 2021’s absurd 107-win Giants team.
Things went from subdued on the field (Freddie Freeman claimed he’d never seen a division winner celebrate with a handshake line before) to typically raucous in the clubhouse.
After all, just because the Dodgers have to be business-like on the diamond, knowing they’re still far from their ultimate goal, does not mean they have to hold anything back in the comfortable confines of their own clubhouse.
Despite the runaway division title, the Dodgers’ road to glory in October will not be easy. As the No. 1 seed in the NL — with no re-seeding — Los Angeles will have to first face the winner of the 4-5 Wild Card matchup, which will likely be either the Braves or Mets, whichever team loses the competitive NL East.
Then, if the Dodgers survive and advance, they’ll probably battle the No. 2 seed … otherwise known as whichever NL East team does not get stuck in the best-of-three Wild Card round.
With a flexing Kershaw in the rotation mix, though, this journey through the muck becomes all the more possible.