Much like the season of the 2013 Los Angeles Dodgers, their NL West-clinching victory on Thursday required them to claw back. But these Dodgers are nothing if not resilient, a quality they've shown in their worst-to-first turnaround, and they beat the Arizona Diamondbacks 7-6.
It is the Dodgers' first NL West crown since 2009, and they're the first team this season to clinch a playoff spot. Not bad for a team that was in last place in June.
Hanley Ramirez, in the lineup for only the second time in the last seven days, put the Dodgers ahead 3-0 with a three-run homer in the third inning, then the Diamondbacks roared back with a six-run third inning off Dodgers starter Ricky Nolasco. The Dodgers — specifically Ramirez — would not be denied and crept back. Ramirez hit another homer in the seventh to tie the game at 6, part of his 4-for-5, four RBI day.
Then, in the eighth inning, Dodgers catcher A.J. Ellis had the clutch hit of the day, sending a Josh Collmenter pitch into the left field stands for the go-ahead homer. The Dodgers' bullpen did the rest as Brian Wilson and Kenley Jansen set the D-backs down in order in eighth and ninth, respectively.
The win completes a stunning about-face for the Dodgers, the team with the $239 million opening day payroll, that tanked at season's start. Let us not forget that the Dodgers spent the entire month of June in last place in the NL West. At their worst, they were 12 games under .500, 30-42 and 9 1/2 games back from first place. That was June 21.
At the start of the July, the Dodgers started a hot streak that will be the thing of legend in L.A. for years to come. They went 19-6 in July, then 23-6 in August. With their victory Thursday, the Dodgers (88-65) have managed to go 58-23 since their most dismal point.
While we wait to see how far these Dodgers can go, having now transformed themselves into World Series favorites, their last-to-first comeback on its own stands as one of the most memorable stories of the 2013 baseball season.