Sept. 14-- SAN FRANCISCO-Andrew Friedman walked around the field before Wednesday's game, clutching a water bottle, smiling easily.
Tuesday had been good to the Los Angeles Dodgers. They had ensured they would not lose every game the rest of the season. They clinched a playoff spot.
Friedman's job is pretty much done for the season. As the Dodgers' president of baseball operations, his primary role is to assemble a championship roster. For the first time in his three years with the Dodgers, he went all in, surrendering a top prospect to acquire Yu Darvish.
Game 1 goes to Clayton Kershaw, of course.
Game 2 is supposed to go to Darvish, but his September had not been auspicious. So Friedman and the Dodgers breathed an ample sigh of relief Wednesday, when Darvish worked seven shutout innings in a 4-1 victory over the San Francisco Giants.
The Dodgers had six hits, all for extra bases. Cody Bellinger homered, tripled and drove in three runs. The pitching tag team-Darvish to Brandon Morrow to rookie Walker Buehler-might represent the best arms they can throw without using Kershaw or Kenley Jansen.
Darvish, like Kershaw, is allowed to pitch deep into games. For the second time in his six weeks with the Dodgers, Darvish completed seven innings.
That is not depth the Dodgers will expect of their other projected playoff starters. Rich Hill has thrown more than 100 pitches twice this season. Alex Wood has not hit 100 at all this season.
In his previous 7 1/3 innings, Darvish had given up 10 runs and 13 hits.
In his seven innings Wednesday, Darvish gave up no runs and three hits, all singles. He faced one batter over the minimum, in part because the Giants ran themselves into two double plays. He walked none, struck out five and got seven outs on ground balls.
There were plenty of other interesting sights and sounds, including the sound of Bellinger's home run splashing into McCovey Cove.
Bellinger now has 37 home runs, one shy of tying Wally Berger and Frank Robinson for the National League rookie record.
Berger never hit that many again. Robinson hit as many as 49, won two MVP awards and earned a spot in the Hall of Fame.
The Dodgers, intent on extending their winning streak to two games after losing 11, struck quickly. With two out in the first inning, Bellinger tripled home Corey Seager, who had been hit by a pitch.
Next up: Logan Forsythe, who is batting .303 against left-handers and .190 against right-handers.
On the mound: Matt Moore, a left-hander with a 5.39 earned-run average.
Forsythe doubled home Bellinger, and the Dodgers had a 2-0 lead five batters into the game.
In the bottom of the first inning, the Giants ran into a 1-6-5-4 double play. In the second, they let a pop fly drop, and their third baseman threw one ball away and dropped another. In the fourth, their catcher could not catch a third strike.
But the Dodgers did not score again until the fifth inning, when Bellinger homered.
Bellinger, who spotted the rest of the league three weeks, ranks second in the league in home runs. He has driven in 86 runs.
The Dodgers, for so long the team assumed to be the one that would finish with the best record in the major leagues, lead the Cleveland Indians by four games for that distinction. To the winner goes home-field advantage throughout the postseason.
"Our goal, first and foremost, is to win the division," Friedman said.
Once the Dodgers do that-their magic number is seven-would Friedman opt for playing hard to try to secure the best record, or easing up to rest batters and line up pitchers for the playoffs?
"I don't have a philosophy on how to handle the last two weeks of the season," he said.
But, with four off days before Game 1 and additional off days scattered through the postseason schedule, Friedman said there would be such a thing as too much rest.
"I don't anticipate aggressive resting of guys," he said.
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