Since seeing their magic number drop to seven before their Saturday night matchup with the Pittsburgh Pirates, the Los Angeles Dodgers have dropped three straight games and their magic number is still at seven.
The Dodgers can no longer clinch on their homestand, but still hold a 7.5 game lead in the division. The losing streak comes after a stretch in which they won 18 of 24 games. Now the team has three more with the Arizona Diamondbacks before going to Colorado and San Francisco and wrapping up the season at Dodger Stadium against the San Diego Padres.
After Monday night’s loss, manager Don Mattingly believes his team is still focused on winning each day. “I feel like we were ready to play tonight,” he said. “Just keep talking to them. I think that’s what happens is, guys start looking ahead.”
Outfielder Andre Ethier cautioned against looking ahead after Sunday’s loss and he’s a part of a strong veteran presence that should keep the Dodgers humbled in their pursuit of a third straight NL West title. Mattingly knows this and that’s why he’s not too concerned.
“I think we’ve got a veteran group for the most part in there that have been through some battles and been through a lot of these,” Mattingly said. “It’s not like we’re going to get surprised by what’s going on. I feel comfortable we’ve got Chase, Howie and Jimmy, and even our guys at this point have been through this a few years. We’ve all seen enough baseball to know it doesn’t do any good to look ahead.”
While the Dodgers are looking to clinch the division as soon as possible, Mattingly believes it is also important for his team to play through the season, echoing Ethier’s statement. “I think it [too much time off] could be [a detriment],” Mattingly said. “I think there’s something about having to play your way in. Everybody has to play their way in, obviously you’ve got to play good for a long time to get in.”
The Dodgers can do so by focusing on home-field advantage, as they sit just one game ahead of the New York Mets in the loss column for home-field advantage in the NLDS.