The Los Angeles Dodgers became the first team in Major League Baseball to clinch a spot in the postseason when they defeated the San Diego Padres 7-5 on Wednesday.
The victory in San Diego secured an eighth consecutive trip to the playoffs, marking the third-longest playoff streak in MLB history, trailing only that of the 1991-2005 Atlanta Braves (14) and the 1995-2007 New York Yankees (13).
Dodgers manager Dave Roberts wasn’t aware that his team clinched until he was asked about it after the game.
It was long considered a foregone conclusion for the Dodgers, whose 35-15 record is the best in the majors. Roberts said clinching was “a first step.”
Dustin May, who threw 5 1/3 innings out of the bullpen Wednesday, confirmed that as part of COVID-19 protocols, MLB doesn’t want teams having wild clubhouse celebrations after clinching.
Asked if the Dodgers had a celebration, he said: “No. We’re not allowed to.” But clinching a postseason spot “is something you grind for for the whole season,” he said.
“This season is different, but we had to grind in the quarantine zone, so you’re still going to feel super excited,” May said.
Said Roberts: “I’m celebrating by saying I’m proud of our guys and it was a great series. I think it caught us all by surprise because we were so focused on trying to win this series. I think word will travel once we get on the plane.”
The Dodgers maintain a 3½-game lead over the Padres with 10 games remaining. If that holds, L.A. will host the opening best-of-three wild-card series against the No. 8 seed in the National League in 14 days.
If the Dodgers and Padres both advance, they would meet in the five-game NL Division Series at Globe Life Field in Arlington, Texas, beginning Oct. 6, even though the teams could finish with baseball’s two best records.
Given the quasi-bubble established for October and the unlikelihood of having fans in attendance, first-place teams such as the Dodgers get few, if any, perks from finishing with their league’s best records.
The only true advantage comes with hosting the opening series, an advantage afforded to the top four teams in each league. There will be no off-days within each of the first three rounds, and that is among the many logistical issues Roberts believes should have been figured out sooner.
“These are things that should have been dealt with before we’re a week out,” Roberts said before Wednesday’s game.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.