10/01/09 1:15 AM EST
Skid potentially historic for Dodgers
NL West title at risk as magic number remains stuck at one
By Doug Miller / MLB.com
Los Angeles had a magic number of two over the Rockies to clinch the NL West on Saturday and Sunday. That number changed to one on Monday and has since been unchanged.
The only way the Dodgers don't win the division title is if the Rockies beat the Brewers on Thursday afternoon and then sweep the Dodgers in the season-ending three-game series that begins Friday at Dodger Stadium.
If that were to occur, it would be the longest -- nine days -- a team held a magic number of one or two and did not win the division. Colorado would be NL West champions and Los Angeles would be the Wild Card entry.
In addition, the Dodgers' seemingly insurmountable lead in the race for home-field advantage has been whittled to a half-game by the Phillies, so this slump could have a major impact on their postseason success, division title or not.
Needing one win to wrap up the title they'd seemingly been cruising toward, the Dodgers have lost all of their past four games. The latest depressing result for the citizens of Dodgertown was a 5-0 loss to the Padres in San Diego. Meanwhile, in the same four days, the Rockies went 3-0.
As manager Joe Torre said Tuesday, "Anything worthwhile is worth waiting for," but does the stoic skipper and veteran of many Octobers have a real reason for concern?
Will this lapse into a sudden late-season scuffle carry over into the playoffs, or will the Dodgers finally capture the division and get enough momentum out of that accomplishment to snap out of their current malaise?
Recent history tells us it can go either way.
In 2005, the defending World Series champion Boston Red Sox had a magic number of one for two days from Sept. 29-30 for the AL Wild Card over the Indians, and they were taken out in the Division Series by the eventual World Series winner, the Chicago White Sox.
In '06, when the eventual AL West champion Oakland A's held a magic number of two from Sept. 22-24 over the Angels, they ended up beating the Minnesota Twins in the ALDS before losing in the AL Championship Series to Detroit.
In '07, the Red Sox held a magic number of two for two days from Sept. 26-27 over the Yankees before clinching the AL East and going on to win the World Series.
But that same year, San Diego held a magic number of one over Colorado for two days, from Sept. 27-28, lost the lead and ultimately fell to the Rockies in a one-game playoff and missed the playoffs altogether.
The Dodgers entered Thursday, an off-day, having held a magic number of one for three full days.
Doug Miller is a national reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.