The feeling of not if but when that was felt for several weeks, applied Tuesday night as the Los Angeles Dodgers jumped out early in a 7-3 win against the Baltimore Orioles to clinch the National League West for a seventh consecutive season.
After Cody Bellinger’s RBI single gave the Dodgers a lead in the first inning, Corey Seager went to work on removing any drama from the night. He clubbed a three-run home run in the first inning and went to the opposite field for a two-run shot in the third.
That gave Seager three longballs in the past two games, his first multi-homer game this season and seventh of his career.
The night was also memorable for Gavin Lux as he ended an 0-for-13 skid with a single and later added his first home run. The ball was caught by a Dodgers fan in right-center field, and SportsNet LA cameras showed Kenta Meada’s interpreter, Will Ireton, appearing to begin the bargaining process for a trade.
Lux later added a double and finished a triple shy of hitting for the cycle. A.J. Pollock was the only player in the Dodgers lineup who did not collect a hit, though he reached safely in the eighth inning on a hit by pitch.
L.A. slugging three home runs didn’t come as much of a surprise when taking into account the various factors. The Dodgers entered leading all NL clubs and ranked third overall in home runs hit, while the Orioles staff had already set an MLB all-time record for most allowed.
The run support was aplenty for Walker Buehler, who started on seven days’ rest and bounced back from a shaky outing his last time out. The right-hander scattered four hits and had 11 strikeouts over seven scoreless innings.
Buehler reached double-digit strikeouts for a sixth time this year and was on the mound in a clinching game for the Dodgers a second time in as many seasons. He turned in a similarly dominant effort last year in Game 163 against the Colorado Rockies.
Buehler tossed a combined 13.2 scoreless innings, allowed five hits and collected 14 strikeouts in those two starts.
The Orioles avoided being shut out Tuesday night by getting to Casey Sadler for three runs in the eighth inning.