Dave Roberts: Dodgers Stand To Benefit From Tight NL West Race
Max Muncy
Orlando Ramirez/USA TODAY Sports

The Los Angeles Dodgers began a seven-game road trip Monday that figures to have significant implications within the National League West. Particularly the series with the San Diego Padres, though four games with the Colorado Rockies are to follow.

“Any time you can play meaningful baseball in the regular season, that’s a good thing. Look back the last four years, we haven’t really had to go down to the wire to win the division,” Dodgers manager Dave Roberts said before his club dropped the series opener at Petco Park.

“I would expect this series and even the series in Colorado, these are big series. I just want us — and we all say it — to play our best baseball as we get into the postseason.”

Other than needing Game 163 against the Rockies to decide the NL West, the Dodgers have largely run away with the division under Roberts. They were doing so again this season but the Padres have closed the gap behind an impressive stretch of play.

Winners in 21 of their last 26 games, including a current eight-game winning streak, the Padres are now just 1.5 games back of the Dodgers.

“I think as you look at the roster, losing some pieces in the ‘pen — namely (Kirby) Yates — and to supplant him with Rosenthal, who’s really throwing the baseball well, to get (Mitch) Moreland and add some depth when you lost (Eric) Hosmer, to get (Mike) Clevinger and add to the rotation, certainly they closed the gap,” Roberts acknowledged.

“Now it’s about both teams playing baseball and which team is going to come out in front. … But at the end of the day, the statistics, the roster on paper, you’ve still got to play the game. I know that we’ve played in a lot of big games, a lot of big series, so I’m looking forward to this.”

Dodgers, Padres bringing intensity

A pitchers’ duel between Clayton Kershaw and Dinelson Lamet validated the heightened anticipation for the three-game series at Petco Park, and Trent Grisham’s reaction to his game-tying home run brought even more of an edge to the game.

Roberts wasn’t particularly pleased with Grisham’s demeanor, while Kershaw brushed it aside. As for the competition between the teams, Roberts believes the Dodgers matched the Padres’ enthusiasm.

“I think both teams had the intensity,” he said. “I thought both dugouts had energy. You can just feel the importance of the game. It was a great game through six innings. I really enjoyed that baseball game, but we’ve got to come back, regroup and win a game tomorrow.”

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