After narrowly escaping Colorado with a sweep-avoiding-yet-still-terrifying victory, the Dodgers have 31 games left to make a playoff push in 2012. They’re 3.5 games behind the Giants, who somehow haven’t been completely shut down by the PED bust of Melky Cabrera, and they may have to do it with a banged-up Matt Kemp and potentially without Kenley Jansen entirely.
As they return home to kick off a series against Ian Kennedy and the Diamondbacks tonight, here’s what they’re facing as August turns into September:
4 vs Arizona
3 vs San Diego
3 @ San Francisco
2 @ Arizona
4 vs St. Louis
3 @ Washington
3 @ Cincinnati
3 @ San Diego
3 vs Colorado
3 vs San Francisco
I’m assuming you see what I see there, and that’s that the season-ending three game set at home against the Giants from October 1-3, culminating in a 4:15 local start on Wednesday 10/3, could be set up perfectly to be the next chapter in the great Dodger/Giant rivalry.
Or, if the Dodgers don’t get their act together, it could be totally meaningless and a mere reminder of what could have been. 3.5 games, it should be noted, is far from impossible to overcome, especially when they still have six head-to-head matchups against the Giants. After 131 games in 2011, St. Louis was 9.5 games back in the Central, and I think we all remember what happened there.
Still, it’s a difficult schedule, even aside from San Francisco. The Reds & Nationals are the two best teams in the National League so far, and while the Dodgers may get lucky enough to avoid Stephen Strasburg, that’s still going to be a tough road trip. Six against San Diego may seem like a treat, but I’ll bet you’d be as surprised as I am to learn that they have the best record in the league (41-30) since June 9.
As you can see, it’s also a schedule with its fair share of days off, which is much-needed after what seems like an endless string of “20 games in 20 days” stretches. That includes a somewhat odd set of days off around both ends of the Sept. 7-9 series in San Francisco, and almost a total lack of Monday baseball – after the Dodgers face San Diego on Labor Day, they don’t play on Monday again until that final San Francisco series on October 1.