Heading into the regular season most anticipated the Los Angeles Dodgers and San Diego Padres to battle for National League West supremacy. However, it’s been the San Francisco Giants who have occupied first place in the division for most of the year.
Despite the Giants suffering consecutive losses to the St. Louis Cardinals, they enter a showdown with the Dodgers still one game ahead for first place. Monday marks the start of a crucial stretch for L.A. and San Francisco as they will meet seven times in 10 days.
“We’re playing the team that’s in first place of the division, so that’s always big,” Will Smith said. “But I don’t think these games are any bigger than the next 70 or 75, however many we’ve got left.”
The Dodgers are 6-3 against the Giants this season and in their last series swept the two games at Dodger Stadium. After the impending seven games, the longtime rivals won’t meet again — and for the final time — until a Sept. 3-5 series at Oracle Park.
Smith choosing to downplay the significance of the head-to-head matchups falls in line with what he and other Dodgers said in regards to the Padres and the early-season meetings being highly anticipated rivalry games.
While the next week-plus could swing the NL West race, the Dodgers arguably have more pressing matters on the injury front. Mookie Betts is dealing with right hip irritation and Gavin Lux sustained a left hamstring injury in the series finale against the Colorado Rockies.
Dodgers manager Dave Roberts anticipates Betts returning to the lineup on Monday, but Lux will likely be out for at least two games. It’s plausible Corey Seager will come off the 60-day injured list at some point during the series against the Giants.
Smith keeping it simple
The Dodgers’ loss to the Rockies in extra innings was at no fault of Smith, who hit a go-ahead two-run home run and also gave L.A. a lead in the 10th with an RBI single. He’s 5-for-8 with one double, one home run and seven RBI in two starts since the All-Star break.
“I think just sticking to my approach and not trying to do too much,” Smith said of his success. “Probably a little mechanical adjustment and little mindset shift. Just sticking with the process.”
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