Dodgers 1st team to clinch a playoff spot, rout Padres 11-2

Orlando Ramirez-USA TODAY Sports
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SAN DIEGO — Reaching the playoffs is becoming routine yet still special for Justin Turner and the the Los Angeles Dodgers.

After emphatically becoming the first team to clinch a postseason spot this year with an 11-2 victory Sunday over the San Diego Padres, the Dodgers didn’t celebrate on the field beyond their usual post-victory handshake line.

Afterward in the clubhouse, manager Dave Roberts led a toast with sparkling wine and the players and staff were given caps with the postseason logo.

The message was simple – there’s a lot more to come for the Dodgers, who sealed a playoff berth for the 10th straight season. They have the best record in the majors at 96-43.

“I don’t think it’s anything you can take for granted,” said Turner, who hit a grand slam and a solo homer and will be in the postseason for the ninth straight year. “I’ve been on some teams early in my career that didn’t have this opportunity, so I definitely feel fortunate to be a part of an organization that cares about winning and puts winning first.”

With thousands of their blue-clad fans cheering them on at Petco Park, the Dodgers reduced to two their magic number for winning the NL West for the ninth time in 10 seasons.

“It’s a big accomplishment,” Roberts said. “For me it’s just making sure guys appreciate that it’s not a rite of passage to get into the postseason every year and there’s still a lot of work to be done. I feel our best baseball is yet to be played and just continue to stay focused.”

Max Muncy hit a go-ahead, two-run, bases-loaded single in the sixth inning and Chris Taylor and Trea Turner also homered for the Dodgers, who won their eighth straight series against the Padres dating to June 2021. The Dodgers have beaten the Padres 12 times in 15 games this year and for the 21st time in their last 25 games.

Roberts, who led the Dodgers to the World Series title after the pandemic-shortened 2020 season, said the Dodgers are conditioned to stay focused.

“It’s kind of who we are. It’s a very smart group, it’s a very focused group,” said Roberts, in his seventh season as manager. “We have a long way to go to accomplish our goal. We kind of understand that if you look at yourself as a ballclub and set a certain standard of play, then it allows you to kind of reach that and realize those goals. It’s pretty easy for us and we don’t care about the standings. We just want to play good baseball.”

Freddie Freeman helped the Atlanta Braves win the 2021 World Series before signing with the Dodgers as a free agent. He said that although the Dodgers are already looking forward to winning the division, “you do have to step back and realize that what we’ve done the last four months has been pretty special.”

“To do it this quick is pretty amazing,” Freeman said. “Just all around, just been playing really good baseball for a long time now as a group and hopefully we can get this division wrapped up here shortly, too.”

It was such a blowout that the Padres had first baseman Wil Myers pitch the ninth, and Trea Turner drove his first pitch into the third balcony of the brick warehouse in the left field corner for his 20th homer. It was Myers’ fourth pitching appearance this season and second against the Dodgers.

The Padres’ lead over Milwaukee for the NL’s third wild-card spot was reduced to two.

Padres All-Star right-hander Joe Musgrove (9-7) had a 2-0 lead after three innings before Justin Turner homered to left with one out in the fifth and Taylor homered to center with two outs.

Musgrove loaded the bases with one out in the sixth before Muncy chased him with a single to right that gave the Dodgers a 4-2 lead.

The Dodgers blew it open with a six-run seventh against the Padres’ bullpen. Trea Turner hit an RBI single off Robert Suarez and Tim Hill walked Muncy with the bases loaded. Craig Stammen came on and Justin Turner drove his first pitch deep into the seats in left for his second career slam.

It was Justin Turner’s 14th career multi-homer game. He has 13 homers this season.

Musgrove, who made his first All-Star team this season, allowed four runs and six hits in 5 1/3 innings, struck out five and walked one. He lost for the seventh time in eight decisions over 14 starts.

Andrew Heaney (3-2) allowed two runs, one earned, and three hits in five innings. He struck out six and walked two.

San Diego’s Jake Cronenworth homered with two outs in the second, his 16th.

PERSPECTIVE

Heaney is on a postseason team for the first time. Last year he was designated for assignment by the New York Yankees shortly before they played in the AL wild-card game. “That was a low point for me,” said Heaney, who signed as a free agent with the Dodgers. “So now to be on a team like this and hopefully be contributing to it and trying to hold my weight and doing whatever I can to help us win is something I relish for sure,” he said.

TRAINER’S ROOM

Dodgers: Muncy was back in the lineup as DH after sitting out the last two games after getting a cortisone shot in his left knee.

Padres: RHP Stammen (right shoulder inflammation) from the injured list and optioned RHP Nabil Crismatt to Triple-A El Paso. Designated RHP Tayler Scott for assignment.

UP NEXT

Dodgers: LHP Tyler Anderson (14-3, 2.73) is scheduled to start Monday night in the opener of a three-game series at Arizona, which will counter with RHP Ryne Nelson (1-0, 0.00).

Padres: Haven’t named a starter for Tuesday night’s opener of a two-game series at Seattle.

Bonds, Clemens left out of Hall again; McGriff elected

John Hefti-USA TODAY Sports
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SAN DIEGO – Moments after Fred McGriff was elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame, almost two decades after his final game, he got the question.

Asked if Barry Bonds belonged in Cooperstown, a smiling McGriff responded: “Honestly, right now, I’m going to just enjoy this evening.”

A Hall of Fame committee delivered its answer Sunday, passing over Bonds, Roger Clemens and Curt Schilling while handing McGriff the biggest honor of his impressive big league career.

The lanky first baseman, nicknamed the “Crime Dog,” hit .284 with 493 homers and 1,550 RBIs over 19 seasons with six major league teams. The five-time All-Star helped Atlanta win the 1995 World Series.

McGriff got 169 votes (39.8%) in his final year on the Baseball Writers’ Association of America ballot in 2019. Now, he will be inducted into Cooperstown on July 23, along with anyone chosen in the writers’ vote, announced Jan. 24.

“It’s all good. It’s been well worth the wait,” said McGriff, who played his last big league game in 2004.

It was the first time that Bonds, Clemens and Schilling had faced a Hall committee since their 10th and final appearances on the Baseball Writers’ Association of America ballot. Bonds and Clemens have been accused of using performance-enhancing drugs, and support for Schilling dropped after he made hateful remarks toward Muslims, transgender people, reporters and others.

While the 59-year-old McGriff received unanimous support from the 16 members of the contemporary baseball era committee – comprised of Hall members, executives and writers – Schilling got seven votes, and Bonds and Clemens each received fewer than four.

The makeup of the committee likely will change over the years, but the vote was another indication that Bonds and Clemens might never make it to the Hall.

This year’s contemporary era panel included Greg Maddux, who played with McGriff on the Braves, along with Paul Beeston, who was an executive with Toronto when McGriff made his big league debut with the Blue Jays in 1986.

Another ex-Brave, Chipper Jones, was expected to be part of the committee, but he tested positive for COVID-19 and was replaced by Arizona Diamondbacks President Derrick Hall.

The contemporary era committee considers candidates whose careers were primarily from 1980 on. A player needs 75% to be elected.

“It’s tough deciding on who to vote for and who not to vote for and so forth,” McGriff said. “So it’s a great honor to be unanimously voted in.”

In addition to all his big hits and memorable plays, one of McGriff’s enduring legacies is his connection to a baseball skills video from youth coach Tom Emanski. The slugger appeared in a commercial for the product that aired regularly during the late 1990s and early 2000s – wearing a blue Baseball World shirt and hat.

McGriff said he has never seen the video.

“Come Cooperstown, I’ve got to wear my blue hat,” a grinning McGriff said. “My Tom Emanski hat in Cooperstown. See that video is going to make a revival now, it’s going to come back.”

Hall of Famers Jack Morris, Ryne Sandberg, Lee Smith, Frank Thomas and Alan Trammell also served on this year’s committee, which met in San Diego at baseball’s winter meetings.

Rafael Palmeiro, Albert Belle, Don Mattingly and Dale Murphy rounded out the eight-man ballot. Mattingly was next closest to election, with eight votes of 12 required. Murphy had six.

Bonds, Clemens and Schilling fell short in January in their final chances with the BBWAA. Bonds received 260 of 394 votes (66%), Clemens 257 (65.2%) and Schilling 231 (58.6%).

Palmeiro was dropped from the BBWAA ballot after receiving 25 votes (4.4%) in his fourth appearance in 2014, falling below the 5% minimum needed to stay on. His high was 72 votes (12.6%) in 2012.

Bonds has denied knowingly using performance-enhancing drugs, and Clemens maintains he never used PEDs. Palmeiro was suspended for 10 days in August 2005 following a positive test under the major league drug program.

A seven-time NL MVP, Bonds set the career home run record with 762 and the season record with 73 in 2001. A seven-time Cy Young Award winner, Clemens went 354-184 with a 3.12 ERA and 4,672 strikeouts, third behind Nolan Ryan (5,714) and Randy Johnson (4,875). Palmeiro had 3,020 hits and 568 homers.

Schilling fell 16 votes shy with 285 (71.1%) on the 2021 BBWAA ballot. The right-hander went 216-146 with a 3.46 ERA in 20 seasons, winning the World Series with Arizona in 2001 and Boston in 2004 and 2007.

Theo Epstein, who also served on the contemporary era committee, was the GM in Boston when the Red Sox acquired Schilling in a trade with the Diamondbacks in November 2003.

Players on Major League Baseball’s ineligible list cannot be considered, a rule that excludes Pete Rose.