It’s a wild wild card situation

CLAYTON KERSHAW struck out eight batters in five innings as the Dodgers won their third straight game on Sunday (Flickr/David Slaughter).

The MLB wild card standings are of special interest to baseball fans now, as the final weeks of the season wind down. The Dodgers are in a unique spot: if they finish as they are now – just one game behind the Giants  – they will get a post-season playoff spot, but have to start that with a one-game “sudden death” contest against the other NL wild card team, which could be the St. Louis Cardinals (79-69), Cincinnati Reds (77-73) or Philadelphia Phillies (76-73).

It’s ironic that the two best teams in baseball are in the same NL West division, and that finishing just one game off the pace puts that team into a precarious cliffhanger scenario. But that’s better than not making the post-season at all.

For the Angels (72-77) to make it would take a miracle of Charlton Heston proportions. They are 12 games back, and would have to see the Boston Red Sox (86-65) and Toronto Blue Jays (84-65) lose all of their games, while the Halos run the table.

More likely is the Halos – losers of three straight through Sunday – will go quietly, triggering talk of whether manager Joe Maddon is really the man who belongs in the dugout. Let the finger-pointing begin!

Dodgers schedule: Idle Monday, then start a three-game series in Colorado Tuesday through Thursday, then three games at Arizona Friday to Sunday.

Angels schedule: Starting a four-game series in Anaheim against the Houston Astros Monday. Then the Mariners are in town Friday to Sunday.

Rams getting their kicks; Bolts got kicked

In case anyone forgot, the “foot” is still very much crucial in NFL football. The Rams extended their record to 2-0 with a 27-24 win over the Indianapolis Colts on Sunday, in a game decided by a late field goal by Matt Gay. That gives the team more momentum going into next week’s game at SoFi Stadium against the defending Super Bowl champion Tampa Bay Buccaneers (also 2-0). The Buccs defeated the Atlanta Falcons 48-25.

The Chargers fell to 1-1 on a heart-breaking 20-17 loss to the Dallas Cowboys on a 56-yard field goal by former Rams placekicker Greg Zuerlein as time ran out. The Bolts got a good, but not great performance from young QB Justin Herbert, who passed for 338 yards and one score, but was intercepted twice. Next up: the Chargers will visit Kansas City (1-1) on Sunday.

Bruins’ bubble burst? Trojans back on horse

They made it close, rallying to only lose by three, but the UCLA football team’s 40-37 defeat at the hands of Fresno State may have taken a quite a lot of the air out of the feeling that “the Bruins are back.”

After beating Hawaii (no surprise) and LSU (great upset), the Uclans jumped into the AP Top 25 at number 13. But losing to the Bulldogs took a big bite out of their reputation. On Saturday they face a crucial test in Palo Alto when they open Pac-12 play against Stanford. The Cardinals are 2-1 and are the team that spanked USC 42-28 on Sept. 11. UCLA is now rated 24th. Stanford (2-1) is unranked but will be the favorite playing at home.

Speaking of the Trojans (also unranked) they could do a lot to reclimb that ladder on Saturday when they host Oregon State (2-1). USC bounced back from the loss to Stanford with a 45-14 blowout win over Washington State.

The final out: “I need a beer,” said Rams coach Sean McVay after the team rallied to win Sunday’s game in the last 142 seconds.

“Sports Monday” is written by Pete Zarustica.




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