Dodgers clinch playoff spot – for real, this time – with win against Diamondbacks

PHOENIX — Duck. Duck. Goose … eggs.

Dodgers starter Tyler Anderson and Diamondbacks rookie Ryne Nelson – both University of Oregon alums – combined for a scoreless tie through six innings before the Dodgers broke it open against the Diamondbacks’ bullpen to take a 6-0 victory on Monday night at Chase Field.

The win clinched a postseason berth for the Dodgers for the second consecutive day –that’s just how good they are this year.

The Dodgers celebrated Sunday in San Diego, thinking they had clinched a postseason berth. They toasted the achievement and passed out hats with the official postseason logo on the side.

But they didn’t actually clinch a playoff spot on Sunday. MLB had miscalculated, failing to account for the mathematical possibility – but real-world improbability – that the Dodgers could lose their final 23 games, the Padres and Brewers could each win the rest of their games and a series of tiebreakers in a three- or four-way tie would all go against the Dodgers, leaving them without a playoff spot.

That outlandish scenario didn’t survive the day. And now the Dodgers can clinch a third time – a win or a Padres loss on Tuesday would secure the NL West title.

“Uh, zero,” Mookie Betts said when asked how much attention he had given to the Dodgers’ un-clinching Monday.

“Just another step. I don’t want to take away from the guys that haven’t been in the postseason. But a lot of us have and understand that this is just step one to our final destination.”

Nelson’s first steps in the big leagues have been impressive. A second-round pick out of Oregon in the 2019 draft, Nelson made his big-league debut last week and held the Padres scoreless for seven innings.

Second verse, same as the first.

The Dodgers had just two hits in six innings against Nelson, advancing only one runner past first base. That was Trea Turner, who tripled into the right field corner with two outs in the sixth inning.

The Diamondbacks opted to walk the latest NL Player of the Week, Freddie Freeman, to face Will Smith instead. Smith nearly made them regret that decision when he shot a line drive into the left-center field gap. Alex Thomas ran it down, however, to end the inning and the Dodgers’ lone scoring threat against Nelson.

“I know who he is, know about him,” Anderson said. “I know he’s always had really big stuff. I think he ran into some injuries at Oregon and I don’t know about the minor leagues. I’m really happy for him to see his success in his first couple outings. It looks like he’s got really great stuff.”

Anderson’s time in Eugene ended almost a decade before Nelson’s. He had more work to do to get through his seven scoreless innings against the Diamondbacks.

Anderson had runners on base in each of the first four innings with Betts’ defense getting him out of potential trouble in the third – but not where he usually flashes his Gold Glove.

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Betts started at second base Monday and showed his roots there are still strong. He made a nice running play on Thomas’ dribbler to start the inning, using his glove to shovel the ball to Freeman at first. After a single by Geraldo Perdomo, Betts made a nice turn at second base as Perdomo barreled in, getting the inning-ending double play.

An infielder on his way up in the minor leagues, Betts admits he has more fun on his occasional return to the dirt.

“A lot,” he said of how much he enjoys those games. “It makes me miss being in there. But they pay me to be in right field. They pay me a lot to be in right field. So I’ll go back out there.”

Anderson stranded runners at the corners in the fourth and worked around a one-out double by Ketel Marte in the sixth before the Dodgers broke it open in the seventh.

The Diamondbacks changed Nelsons, bringing in lefty reliever Kyle to start the seventh. Max Muncy touched him for a 423-foot double off the high wall in straightaway center field, sparking a three-run inning that featured a go-ahead sacrifice fly by Trayce Thompson and a two-run double by Cody Bellinger.

In the ninth, the Dodgers doubled that lead on a three-run home run by Betts.

No. 34 for Mookie! pic.twitter.com/fZ9uXPHxwd

— MLB (@MLB) September 13, 2022

Cody James Bellinger with the 2-run double to put the #Dodgers up 3-0 in the 7th. #GoDodgers pic.twitter.com/ESpCQz35pr

— SportsNet LA (@SportsNetLA) September 13, 2022

No matter where you put him, Mookie will flash the leather. pic.twitter.com/9XU7FKu9fv

— MLB (@MLB) September 13, 2022

The postseason-bound @Dodgers are one step closer to winning the NL West. pic.twitter.com/nPQolysrxx

— MLB (@MLB) September 13, 2022