The Los Angeles Dodgers have already wrapped up their third straight division title, but they’re not resting until they have home-field advantage, too.
And given the way they’ve played there this year, who could blame them?
Los Angeles looks to improve upon baseball’s second-best home record Friday against the San Diego Padres.
The Dodgers (89-70) come off an unimpressive 2-5 trip, with Tuesday’s 8-0 NL West-clinching victory over San Francisco the brightest among the few highlights. They’re hoping to build momentum for next week’s playoffs with this final regular-season series at Chavez Ravine, where they’re 52-26, trailing only the 55-26 mark by St. Louis.
They need to finish ahead of the New York Mets (89-70), to secure home field in next week’s NL Division Series because New York won the season series 4-3. While Los Angeles has lost nine of 13, New York is also slumping, having just been swept by major league-worst Philadelphia.
"These aren’t games just to play games, we want home-field advantage," Brett Anderson said after an impressive 7 2-3 innings in Wednesday’s 3-2 win against the Giants.
Anderson is making a strong case to be included in Los Angeles’ postseason rotation behind Clayton Kershaw and Zack Greinke, and Alex Wood (11-12, 3.89 ERA) also appears a likely starter, but he’ll have to shake off a rough outing. He surrendered a career-high eight runs and season-worst 11 hits over 5 1-3 innings in a 12-5 loss at Colorado on Sunday.
Wood, who had completed six innings while allowing two runs or fewer in four of his previous five outings, attributed some of his struggles to Coors Field, where hitters own an MLB-high .749 OPS.
"This is the only place where you can give up six or eight and feel you didn’t throw that bad," he told MLB’s official website. "They can get on you real quick."
Wood gave up four earned runs over five innings in a 5-2 loss to San Diego while with Atlanta on July 25, but was excellent for the Dodgers in a 2-0 road victory Sept. 5, limiting the Padres to three hits over seven innings.
San Diego (74-85) comes off a 3-1 win Thursday against Milwaukee but could be without three of its best hitters for this series. Justin Upton didn’t play due a strained neck suffered in the first inning Wednesday, while Matt Kemp has already been shut down for the rest of the season due to a partially torn tendon.
Additionally, Wil Myers said he’s day to day after leaving Thursday with a sore wrist.
Casey Kelly (0-1, 9.00) started off slowly last Friday against Arizona in his first start since Sept. 2012 after undergoing reconstructive elbow surgery in April 2013. He surrendered six runs in the first two innings, though he recovered to allow no more while pitching through the fifth.
"After the first tough couple of innings I felt like I settled down and started to work the ball down and really started some offspeed pitches," he said. "Every outing you are going to have some tough things go on but try to take the positives out of it and try to keep moving forward."
Los Angeles has already clinched the season series with an 11-5 advantage. Adrian Gonzalez, batting just .160 over his last eight games with no extra-base hits – matching his second-longest drought of the season – could look to heat up. He has 16 RBIs and seven home runs while playing in all 16 meetings, matching his single-season high for homers against one opponent after also hitting seven against Arizona in 2010 and 2014.