SAN DIEGO -- The old adage in football is you take 24 hours to enjoy a big win before moving on to the next game. That's not really possible in baseball in which the daily grind of the regular season forces you back on the field for the next game within hours of the final out of the last game.
Don Mattingly, however, made sure the Los Angeles Dodgers had at least 24 hours to savor clinching the NL West before moving on to the rest of the regular season and attempting to secure home-field advantage in the playoffs.
Mattingly's lineup Saturday for the Dodgers' 4-0 win over the San Diego Padres returned to normalcy one night after he went with a lineup more reminiscent of a spring training game in Friday's 2-0 loss to the Padres.
"We want to win every day and we want to have home-field advantage, but we've been at this for close to 200 games when you count spring training," Mattingly said. "It's one of those where you felt like these guys needed to sit there and enjoy that and now we have more work to do and we're going back to work."
The Dodgers didn't waste any time getting back to work with Clayton Kershaw on the mound. The Cy Young favorite pitched seven scoreless innings, giving up only three hits and striking out 10. With one start left in the season, Kershaw owns a 1.88 ERA and will likely be the first Dodger since Sandy Koufax to end a season with a sub-2.00 ERA.
A.J. Ellis, who hit the winning home run to clinch the division in Arizona, hit a two-run homer to left in the fourth inning Saturday to get the Dodgers on the board first and score all the runs they'd really need with Kershaw starting.
Yasiel Puig put the game away with a two-run blast in the seventh inning that could have easily landed in the Gaslamp Quarter. Puig's home run was calculated at 457 feet, making it the second-longest home run in Petco Park history. The first was a 458-foot home run by Adrian Gonzalez in 2009. The two friends and teammates will no doubt be debating that one foot for a while.
Mattingly will now go into the final seven games of the regular season not only looking to gain home-field advantage but also shore up any issues the Dodgers might have heading into the playoffs.
"One of our goals coming out of spring training was to win the division and set ourselves up where we could do what we're doing," Mattingly said. "We also wanted to set our pitching up the way we want it. We've at least accomplished that much of it. It's now an opportunity for us to touch on some other things. This is a great opportunity for us."