The Los Angeles Dodgers clinched their seventh consecutive NL West title in fitting fashion, using two home runs by Corey Seager and a masterful pitching performance by Walker Buehler to beat the Baltimore Orioles 7-3 on Tuesday night.
After the final out, the first team in the majors to clinch a playoff spot this season gathered at the mound for a subdued celebration that included a wardrobe change for a pending champagne celebration in the clubhouse.
Los Angeles, coming off consecutive World Series losses to Houston and Boston and seeking its first title since 1988, will likely begin the postseason at Dodger Stadium on Oct. 3 against the NL wild-card team.
The Dodgers, with a power-packed lineup and imposing rotation, gained sole possession of first place on April 17 and never looked back. Their final pursuer was the Arizona Diamondbacks, who started the day a whopping 17½ games out of first place.
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This is the earliest that Los Angeles (94-52) has ever clinched the division, both in terms of date and games. The 1977 team did it in Game 151, and the 2013 club clinched on Sept. 19.
Last year, the Dodgers didn’t wrap up the division until the 163rd game of the season, defeating Colorado in a playoff on Oct. 1.
“I’d rather the early one versus the late one. We did the late one last year,” manager Dave Roberts said before the game. “I like this one just so you can really get it past you. Give guys rest, put guys in roles and positions you might face in the postseason.”
The Dodgers can now coast to the finish, although they have a shot at breaking the franchise record for largest final first-place margin, 13½ games in 1955. LA is also in the running against Houston and the Yankees for best record in the majors and home-field advantage throughout October.
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