Major League Baseball

10th NLW title is still special

LOS ANGELES DODGER Chris Taylor celebrates in the dugout after scoring off a two-run single by Kiké Hernández against the Seattle Mariners during the 11th inning of a baseball game Saturday, Sept. 16, 2023, in Seattle. (AP Photo/Maddy Grassy)

By Tim Booth/AP Sports Writer

SEATTLE (AP) – Clayton Kershaw doesn`t know how many more of these celebrations he`ll get the chance to enjoy inside the Los Angeles Dodgers` clubhouse.

Wrapping up an NL West title still feels special.

“You have to embrace it. You have to enjoy it. Like I`ve been saying, this could be the last one for a long time. Every year I say that, but you just can`t take it for granted,” Kershaw said.

The Dodgers secured yet another NL West crown Saturday night with a 6-2 victory in 11 innings over the Seattle Mariners. It`s the 10th division title in the past 11 seasons for Los Angeles, and the celebration featured hugs and championship T-shirts on the field before bubbly was popped in the clubhouse.

“Winning the division is something always special, but doing it by winning a baseball game and not by default makes it more special,” Dodgers manager Dave Roberts said. “Tonight we get a chance to celebrate with one another, celebrate with our fans.”

This clincher had a very October feel – a packed stadium, a tense nine innings filled with terrific pitching on both sides and some unexpected heroics in extra innings.

Max Muncy’s single off Gabe Speier (2-2) scored Mookie Betts from second base with one out in the top of the 11th to give the Dodgers a 2-1 lead. Chris Taylor and Kiké Hernández followed with two-run singles off Isaiah Campbell, and the numerous fans in Dodger blue roared their approval as Seattle fans headed for the exits.

Evan Phillips (2-4) pitched the 10th inning and Joe Kelly got the final three outs.

“This is one of the most special teams I`ve been a part of,” Dodgers first baseman Freddie Freeman said. “I`ve had a great time this year. What a fun experience.”

There was debate before the season if San Diego might be ready to take over the NL West from the Dodgers after its heavy offseason spending. But Los Angeles again proved the class of the division and wrapped up the crown with a couple of weeks remaining in the regular season.

“Every year is different, but for me this is the most fun I’ve had managing,” Roberts said. “Certainly the players are a big part of it, and to watch those guys celebrate one another, pull for one another, sacrifice for each other makes my job that much more enjoyable.”

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