Dodgers franchise win sign, clinch top NL playoff seed with series win

Dodgers outfielders (from left) Joey Gallo, Cody Bellinger and Mookie Betts celebrate after a 4-1 win over the St. Louis Cardinals at Dodger Stadium on Sunday. (Jae C. Hong/Associated Press)

It is still unclear what the Dodgers’ roster will look like in October, and which pitchers they will be able to count on.

But what they do know for sure, after a 4-1 win over the St. Louis Cardinals on Sunday, is that they will have the top seed in the National League after a regular season that will rank as the best in history the franchise.

By winning the weekend series rubber over the Cardinals, the Dodgers matched the club’s winning record, as well as the best record in the NL, by improving to 106-47.

They became the first team in MLB history to win 106 games in three consecutive full seasons, having also achieved that mark in 2019 and 2021 (the 2020 season was shortened to 60 games due to the pandemic).

And they still have nine more games to set a new record for wins in franchise history.

“It speaks to the level of consistency, excellence,” manager Dave Roberts said. “We presented ourselves very well. Part of where we want to get is, you had to dominate and play well during the regular season. And we’re as consistent as anyone.”

Sunday was no exception.

While Roberts’ pregame scrum focused on all the pitchers the Dodgers are missing — he fielded questions about the uncertain statuses of Dustin May (back), Tony Gonsolin (forearm) and Blake Treinen (shoulder), while also reiterating that Yency Almonte (elbow) He is on track to be in action on Wednesday – the victory that followed was composed by composure on the mound.

Despite being sick for the past few days, rookie Michael Grove earned his first MLB win in a five-inning, one-run start.

After reliever Brusdar Graterol led off the sixth with a double play, Andre Jackson recently earned his second career save by closing out the game with three scoreless innings.

Dodgers starting pitcher Michael Grove delivers against the St. Louis Cardinals in the first inning on Sunday.

Dodgers starting pitcher Michael Grove delivers against the St. Louis Cardinals in the first inning on Sunday. (Jae C. Hong/Associated Press)

And in the meantime, the lineup provided more than enough support, scoring four quick runs in the first three innings to knock veteran Cardinals starter Adam Wainwright out of the game early.

“The pitchers set the tone,” Roberts said. “And I thought the team’s offense was back.”

As the owners of baseball’s best record, the Dodgers knew they were closing in on the franchise’s winning record and the NL’s top playoff seed.

It wasn’t until after Sunday’s game, however, that most of the Dodgers realized they had tied the first and officially gotten the second.

“I didn’t even know,” said Freddie Freeman, who returned Sunday from a two-day absence due to illness and opened the scoring with a double for the first time.

Freddie Freeman hits a double for the Dodgers against the Cardinals on Sunday.

Freddie Freeman hits a double for the Dodgers against the Cardinals on Sunday. (Jae C. Hong/Associated Press)

The first baseman knows what it means, though.

When he was with the Atlanta Braves, Freeman played in 11 postseason games at Dodger Stadium. He said the reaction from the fans to Juan Uribe’s home run of the Dodgers in Game 4 of the 2013 NLDS was the loudest he had ever heard.

“This place can be deafening,” he said. “So getting home field advantage through the NLCS is a big thing.”

It’s also another reminder of how different the Dodgers’ path through the playoffs will be this season, having settled for a wild-card berth in 2021.

“We missed him last year, and that probably hurt us a little bit,” said catcher Will Smith, who had two hits and an RBI Sunday. “It’s going to be nice this year to have home field advantage and know that’s going to go in.”

As for all the other historic marks the Dodgers can set during the final weeks of the regular season?

“We will have plenty of time to look back on our achievements,” said Roberts.

Here are the 11 postseason wins between them and the World Series championship they are more concerned about now.

Short hops

Almonte faced four batters in what the Dodgers hope will be his final rehab outing with triple-A Oklahoma City. The right-hander got just two wickets and was charged with two runs. More important, though, will be if he feels good in the next few days, which would allow him to return to the big league roster this week after missing nearly two months with an elbow injury.

Gonsolin is still on track to begin rehab with Oklahoma City on Tuesday. Roberts said if Gonsolin continues to progress well, he could increase his workload to four innings by the start of the playoffs.

Roberts did not offer more clarity on the details of May’s back injury. “To be honest, I didn’t dig it,” Roberts said. “He won’t be playing catch for a few days. So I’ll let the coaches deal with that and get it right.” May refused to speak to reporters in the clubhouse pre-match.

This story originally appeared in the Los Angeles Times.

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