Dodgers' stars align to inch closer to clinch

Freeman and Trea combine for 7 RBIs, while Urías notches 16th win to hold NL ERA lead

September 11th, 2022

SAN DIEGO -- The Dodgers are built for the 162-game challenge, with the organizational depth to survive injuries and the versatility to find matchup advantages and to patch holes in the lineup.

But in any one of those 162 games, they just might hammer you with their star power.

Saturday night brought such a game, as postseason award candidates , and led the way in an 8-4 victory over the Padres at Petco Park, putting the Dodgers on the precipice of their 10th straight postseason berth.

Freeman and Turner, who figure to earn their share of MVP votes and All-MLB consideration, combined for six hits, seven RBIs and four runs to offset two solo home runs by the Padres’ MVP candidate, Manny Machado. Urías, gaining steam in the NL Cy Young Award race, yielded little besides those Machado drives, going seven innings for his 13th win in his past 15 starts.

The Dodgers’ magic number to clinch a playoff spot is one. The next Brewers loss or Dodgers win puts Los Angeles back in the postseason. Here’s the current outlook:

• Games remaining: 24
• Magic number for playoff berth: 1
• Magic number for NL West title: 4

“We’ve been grinding and playing good,” said Turner, whose bases-clearing triple in the fifth inning gave L.A. the lead for good. “We’re fortunate enough to be in the spot we’re in. It will be good to clinch it as early as possible and give some guys some rest, if they need it.”

Freeman homered for the second straight night, a 407-foot drive to center field. It wasn’t quite as majestic as his 446-footer in the series opener, but the 107.5 mph exit velocity on a changeup from Nabil Crismatt showed how well Freeman is driving the ball.

“Just trying to be a good hitter, and sometimes it goes out,” said Freeman, whose four-hit game was his fifth as a Dodger.

Freeman noted that all four of his hits Saturday came with runners on base. The one time he batted with the bases empty, he made an out.

“When guys get on, I want them to keep making left turns,” Freeman said. “When guys get on, I’m just trying to keep the line moving, no matter how I can do it.”

When it comes to stopping the line -- run prevention -- Urías has not allowed more than two to score in any of his nine second-half starts, posting a 1.29 ERA since the All-Star break. He maintained his overall NL ERA lead at 2.30 and improved to 16-7. His 13 wins in a 15-start span matched the best in Los Angeles-era franchise history, joining Don Drysdale, Clayton Kershaw, Zack Greinke and Alex Wood.

Urías entered Saturday leading the NL in ERA+ (185). He’s one off the league lead for wins and trails only Zac Gallen in WHIP at 0.95. Cy Young material?

“I certainly don’t have a vote,” Dodgers manager Dave Roberts said of this year’s award, “but it’s hard to ignore what he’s done for a championship-caliber ballclub.”

Urías doesn’t have a vote, either. Nor is he campaigning.

“I just try to do my job,” Urías said through a translator. “I can’t get too wrapped up in that, what discussions I’m in. I just try to do my job every fifth day.”

He has done that job exceptionally well for months now. And if Urías won’t pump the vote, other Dodgers stars will remind folks that he’s a key cog for the team that’s set to be the first in the 2022 postseason.

“Julio, he’s been unbelievable,” Turner said. “I’ve seen it from the other side. I don’t think people see the ball really well off him. He’s got three good pitches. He competes. Drops down every once in a while. His stuff’s been electric lately. I feel like the fastball’s been really, really good. He gets people to just miss.”

Added Freeman: “He’s putting it all together. He’s landing curveballs to righties, gets them in bad counts. Changeups away. Heaters up. He’s just got it all going right now.”

The Dodgers had it all going on as a team Saturday. Which means they might get to celebrate as a team on Sunday before they depart Petco Park.