Some things are known for a long time but need official validation. The Los Angeles Dodgers beat the San Francisco Giants 9-1 to win the NL West with another incredible performance from Clayton Kershaw, while the New York Yankees are officially out of the playoffs for a second straight season after losing 9-5 to the Baltimore Orioles.
Derek Jeter was hoping his goodbye season would last a little longer. Although there are still four more games to play before we hit 162 games, it won’t matter. The Yankees are at 81-77, 14 games behind the Orioles in the division and now five games behind both the A’s and the Royals for one of the wild card spots, meaning they’ve now missed the playoffs two years in a row.
From 1995 to 2012 the Yankees missed just one postseason, winning five World Series. Missing the playoffs two years in a row is weird for them, and that hasn’t happened since the early 90’s, when the Yankees didn’t make the playoffs 12 years in a row. They were doing very well in 1994 before the strike, so that won’t count as a playoff miss. Injuries have been a part of this year’s failure, but being one of the worst hitting teams in Baseball and going on long stretches of scoring 3 runs or less were the biggest problems they faced in a division that has changed profoundly in recent years.
For the Dodgers, it was only a matter of time. After a sluggish start to the season, the talent and money started paying dividends, but Clayton Kershaw has stole the show. Not just the best pitcher in the league (and all of Baseball), but also the MVP, possibly. He is 21-3 this season, and put on quite a show with eight innings and 11 strikeouts in the win over the Giants, who are now going to have to settle with a wild card spot, falling 5.5 games behind the Dodgers.
At 91-68, the Dodgers have a very good shot at finishing with their best record since the 2009 season (95-67) and have won the division for the second straight year, something that hasn’t happened since the 2008-2009 run under Joe Torre. Now it’s another former Yankee, Don Mattingly, who is giving the orders, hoping to get the Dodgers into the World Series for the first time since 1998, when Tommy Lasroda was the manager.
The Dodgers have the second best record in the National League, fourth best in the Majors. They’re in the top 10 in all the major batting and pitching categories, having a lot more than one out to any complication they might face. For Kershaw, it’s the time to show the Koufax comparisons haven’t been made for nothing, and that he’s ready not just to be the best pitcher in Baseball, but also prove that dominance in the postseason.