Dodgers overcome injuries to clinch fourth straight NL West title

Big League Stew

Let there be no doubt about it, the Los Angeles Dodgers are the best in the National League West.

Despite a historic series of injuries that would have demoralized and defeated most teams, the Dodgers survived and even persevered on their way to a fourth straight NL West crown. Now they’ll seek to be more than regular season wonders as they chase the franchise’s first World Series championship since 1988.

The Dodgers fittingly clinched in Vin Scully’s final home broadcast, which is as good a tribute as any the legendary broadcaster has received. It was also the perfect game for Scully to call, as it featured a dramatic finish.

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The Colorado Rockies got out to an early lead in the third, picking up two runs off Dodgers’ starter Brandon McCarthy. The Dodgers would answer back in the bottom of the frame, getting a run back on a Yasiel Puig sacrifice fly.

The Rockies maintained that lead until the bottom of the seventh, when rookie shortstop Corey Seager tripled in a run to tie things up.

Charlie Culberson’s 10th inning walk-off home run propelled the Dodgers to the NL West title. (Getty Images/Harry How)
Charlie Culberson’s 10th inning walk-off home run propelled the Dodgers to the NL West title. (Getty Images/Harry How)

With the game tied in the ninth, Los Angeles turned to closer Kenley Jansen to keep the Rockies off the board. Jansen was able to get two quick out before allowing a go-ahead home run to give Colorado a one-run lead.

The Dodgers went down quickly to begin the inning, and with two outs, it was up to Seager to extend the contest. He did just that. With the Dodgers down to their last out, Seager smacked his 26th home run of the season out to right field to tie things 3-3.

With a man on first, Adrian Gonzalez flew out to left, sending the game into extras and delaying Scully’s retirement.

In the bottom of the 10th, Los Angeles gave Scully the perfect sendoff. With two outs in the inning, Charlie Culberson blasted a solo home run to win the game and give clinch the NL West for the Dodgers.

Throughout the 2016 season, the Dodgers have placed 28 different players on the disabled list. That’s three more players than a regulation regular season roster, and it’s the most ever in MLB history during a single season, topping the previous record of 27 held by the Boston Red Sox. It’s a dubious record, but we suppose the Dodgers are fortunate they weren’t all injured at the same time.

With the exception of Kenta Maeda, who notched his 30th start on Sept. 21, the entire preferred Dodgers rotation has missed time. That includes Kershaw, Scott Kazmir, Hyun Jin-Hyu Brandon McCarthy, Alex Wood and Brett Anderson, and even expands to include mid-season acquisitions Bud Norris and Rich Hill. The bullpen has been short-handed too, with Chris Hatcher, Carlos Frias, Yimi Garcia and Chin-hui Tsao all currently on the DL.

As for the position players: Scott Van Slyke and Trayce Thompson are done for the season. Andre Ethier, Yasiel Puig, Joc Pederson and Enrique Hernandez all spent time on the DL. Puig even spent time in the minor leagues for reasons beyond injury. Yet somehow, some way the Dodgers were never truly impacted. In fact, they only seemed to get stronger and more confident. They owe a lot to guys like Adrian Gonzalez, Corey Seager, Justin Turner and Yasmani Grandal, as they helped steady the ship.

The Dodgers got help from the Giants too. That’s undeniable. San Francisco entered the All-Star break with an MLB-best 57-33 record. They’ve since gone (25-41), allowing the Dodgers to come back from seven games down to winning the division by eight games.

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Mark Townsend is a writer for Big League Stew on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at bigleaguestew@yahoo.com or follow him on Twitter!

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