LOS ANGELES -- The Dodgers lost five of their last six games in the regular season. But they won five of the six games they played against the Washington Nationals.After a Monday workout, Dodgers players essentially nullified both sets of results as having any meaning going into the best-of-five National
LOS ANGELES -- The Dodgers lost five of their last six games in the regular season. But they won five of the six games they played against the Washington Nationals.
After a Monday workout, Dodgers players essentially nullified both sets of results as having any meaning going into the best-of-five National League Division Series that opens Friday in Washington (2:30 p.m. PT/FS1).
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"When you clinch, I've seen it countless times, there's just a little bit of that edge in terms of preparation, and last week we were using guys in different spots," said Andrew Friedman, president of baseball operations.
"I've been with teams that rolled in and didn't have success. I've been with teams that struggled coming in and had a lot of success. It's a totally different season and I'm confident in the focus and mindset coming in."
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If recent history is any indication, momentum isn't really an indicator of postseason success. Last year's World Series champions, the Royals, were just 15-17 in September, and the 2014 Giants went 13-12 in September (and 6-9 the final two weeks) before winning their third World Series in five seasons.
Third baseman Justin Turner, leading the team with 27 home runs and simply a team leader, echoed Friedman on the subject of momentum going into the postseason.
"The momentum thing is kind of hit or miss," said Turner. "We have five games in between. You can have all the momentum you want and still have to sit around for five games. I think you create your own momentum once the game starts in the playoff. Play the game the right way, make all the routine plays and run the bases the right way and that's how you kind of create momentum for yourself."
The Dodgers not only lost the momentum they had when they clinched a fourth consecutive NL West title on Sept. 25 with Charlie Culberson's walk-off homer on Vin Scully's final home broadcast, they lost a chance at the home-field advantage.
"It would have been nice playing in front of the home fans," said Turner. "But the last two years we had home-field and it didn't really work out for us. Hopefully, we'll be the team that goes in and beats up on the team with the home-field advantage."
Manager Dave Roberts, who tried to balance winning games with resting some players and testing others, defended last week's outcome.
"It's always difficult," he said. "I've been on teams where we've clinched early and teams where we've clinched late. The number one priority for us is to go in healthy, to align the pitching staff, which we've done. Now with the regular season over, we can look towards a second season. I think our guys have been able to reset, refocus and re-energize. I don't think losing five or six or whatever we did to finish out the season will impact us."
Ken Gurnick has covered the Dodgers since 1989, and for MLB.com since 2001.