Fifty-eight days ago, the Dodgers were in third place in their division. They were in the midst of a monthlong skid. And they were only a game clear of the playoff cut line, clinging to the National League’s final wild-card position.
So no, manager Dave Roberts acknowledged Tuesday, not even he could have imagined his team surging so quickly and so dominantly to its current place in the standings.
With an 6-2 defeat of the Milwaukee Brewers at Dodger Stadium, the Dodgers continued to cement their place atop the NL West — and the list of World Series contenders — by winning their ninth straight game and 13th of 14 in August.
They got a strong start from rookie Bobby Miller, who gave up a run in the first inning but finished his night with 18 straight outs.
They got a big inning from their lineup, which busted open a 1-1 tie with five runs in the bottom of the sixth.
And they continued to cruise past the rest of the division, moving nine games clear of the second-place San Francisco Giants with 44 games left on the schedule.
“If you look back four or five weeks ago, could we have envisioned this situation?” Roberts asked rhetorically. “I think we could have saw ourselves playing like this. But to be in this position, it takes other teams not playing well, so it is what it is. I’m not gonna apologize for it.”
Instead, Roberts spent Tuesday afternoon warning against complacency, confident his veteran club could handle its sudden first-place cushion.
“I just want to try to stress continuing to win baseball games,” Roberts said. “We’ll see where we’re at once we get to the postseason.”
And if Tuesday was any indication, reaching October should be a breeze.
Even against a fellow first-place Milwaukee team, the Dodgers hardly looked strained in their series opener at Chavez Ravine, overcoming their early 1-0 deficit thanks to the bottom of their lineup.
In the fifth inning, the Dodgers (72-46) tied the game after David Peralta hit a leadoff single, Jason Hewyard lined a double off the wall and Miguel Rojas hit a run-scoring groundout.
In the bottom of the sixth, their damage was much more pronounced.
Playing his first game in nine days because of a groin issue, J.D. Martinez thumped an RBI double off the wall in left-center to put the Dodgers in front. Pinch-hitter Kiké Hernández followed with a two-run single up the middle, giving him 10 RBIs in just 17 games with the Dodgers. Rojas and Mookie Betts piled on later in the inning, hitting back-to-back RBI singles.
It hardly even mattered that Freddie Freeman and Will Smith combined to go 0 for 8 in rare off nights in the lineup’s Nos. 2 and 3 spots. The six hitters below them combined for eight of the Dodgers’ 10 hits and all but one of their RBIs.
Miller, meanwhile, might have had the best performance.
The right-hander put himself in quick trouble in the first inning. Christian Yelich tagged him with a leadoff single. William Contreras followed with a full-count walk. Then, Carlos Santana nearly hit a three-run homer, watching a deep fly ball die at the warning track, before the Brewers pushed across a run on a fielder’s choice.
After that, however, the 24-year-old phenom Miller picked up where he’d left off in a career-best start against Arizona last week, ruthlessly mowing through the Brewers (65-55) without letting another batter reach base.
Riding predominantly a fastball-curveball mix, Miller racked up four strikeouts in six innings. He needed only 74 pitches to do so, getting an early hook with long reliever Ryan Yarbrough available to take down the final three innings.