Whicker: Scott Alexander adds to the general relief as Dodgers win

LOS ANGELES — You might not have noticed Scott Alexander at Dodger Stadium on Wednesday night, which was the whole point.

He quietly muffled Arizona when the Dodgers only led by one run. Chase Utley then sent a two-run double into the left-center gap and the Dodgers wound up 6-3 winners in an affair that resembled a hostage situation more than a game.

They went 2 for 12 with men in scoring position and had immense trouble advancing more than one base. They got their first four runs on two wild pitches, a hit-by-pitch and a run-scoring fly ball.

They have been having so much difficulty delivering in the clutch that they’re thinking about hiring a doula.

“We’re still not playing complete baseball games,” Manager Dave Roberts said. Nor do they have a complete lineup, although right fielder Yasiel Puig did play Wednesday, and third baseman Justin Turner was all over the place in pregame ceremonies, had a simulated game, and expects to be active next week.

Alexander was a point of light. He came here in a three-way deal, bringing solid ground-ball credentials from Kansas City. He was supposed to be a left-handed weapon to replace Tony Watson, who signed with San Francisco.

But he couldn’t get out of his own way in the first month of the season and went to Oklahoma City for a tuneup. Triple-A pitching coach Bill Simas got him aligned, without the world watching, and Alexander looked the part on Wednesday.

“I don’t really judge it by velocity,’” Alexander said. “It’s just how it feels, coming out of my hand. I thought I was starting to get a better flow before I was sent down. I got some help with my timing and everything started to work.

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“At first I was kind of lost, didn’t have a feel for anything. Down there I found the final piece of it. I’ve had slow starts before, but I don’t remember feeling that lost. It was frustrating not being able to even get into a game. Tonight I felt normal out there.”

Alexander wasn’t allowed to ease back in. The Diamondbacks, winners of 14 of their past 17 regular-season games against the Dodgers, had scored twice in the seventh off J.T. Chargois and had two on with two out.

Alexander got a ground ball from Ketel Marte that made Roberts’ heart flutter a bit when shortstop Chris Taylor flipped it to second baseman Austin Barnes instead of throwing to first. Another hard slide by Steven Souza, who hit third baseman Matt Muncy hard with a slide on Tuesday, almost broke up the force play but didn’t.

It was still 4-3 in the eighth when Alexander got two grounders, then fanned Daniel Descalso.

Alexander had three rough outings in his first 11 appearances and had a 1.853 WHIP, which was not the introduction that he’d had in mind.

“I think it was tough only because they didn’t know me,” he said. “Early on, you think you can patch it in spring training, you’ll figure it out. Eventually, you just want to get the ball somewhere close to where you want it. It felt good tonight.”

Kenley Jansen got a three-out save after he pitched two innings on Tuesday. Alex Wood gave up an inside-the-park home run by Nick Ahmed in the first, after Kiké Hernandez rammed into the center-field wall. But Wood shut down the Diamondbacks for the next four innings, despite five hits and three walks.

Puig had three hits and Utley, after that double off lefty Jorge De La Rosa, gave his usual baseball tutorial by hustling to get to third on a fly ball to center.

And no bones were broken during the making of this victory.

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Whicker: Yasiel Puig goes from outcast to centerpiece in Dodgers’ room

  • Los Angeles Dodgers’ Yasiel Puig watches his solo home run in the sixth inning of a National League Championship Series baseball game against the Chicago Cubs at Dodger Stadium on Saturday, Oct. 14, 2017 in Los Angeles. (Photo by Keith Birmingham, Pasadena Star-News/SCNG)

    Los Angeles Dodgers’ Yasiel Puig watches his solo home run in the sixth inning of a National League Championship Series baseball game against the Chicago Cubs at Dodger Stadium on Saturday, Oct. 14, 2017 in Los Angeles. (Photo by Keith Birmingham, Pasadena Star-News/SCNG)

  • Los Angeles Dodgers’ Yasiel Puig, right, watches his home run against the Chicago Cubs during the seventh inning of Game 1 of baseball’s National League Championship Series in Los Angeles, Saturday, Oct. 14, 2017. (AP Photo/Alex Gallardo)

    Los Angeles Dodgers’ Yasiel Puig, right, watches his home run against the Chicago Cubs during the seventh inning of Game 1 of baseball’s National League Championship Series in Los Angeles, Saturday, Oct. 14, 2017. (AP Photo/Alex Gallardo)

  • Los Angeles Dodgers right fielder Yasiel Puig #66 heads for first base and his fall heads out of the park for a homer in the 7th inning. The Dodgers hosted the Chicago Cubs in the first game of the National League Championship series at Dodger Stadium. Los Angeles, CA 10/14/2017 (Photo by John McCoy, Los Angeles Daily News/SCNG)

    Los Angeles Dodgers right fielder Yasiel Puig #66 heads for first base and his fall heads out of the park for a homer in the 7th inning. The Dodgers hosted the Chicago Cubs in the first game of the National League Championship series at Dodger Stadium. Los Angeles, CA 10/14/2017 (Photo by John McCoy, Los Angeles Daily News/SCNG)

  • Los Angeles Dodgers right fielder Yasiel Puig #66 rounds first after his 7th ining homer. The Dodgers hosted the Chicago Cubs in the first game of the National League Championship series at Dodger Stadium. Los Angeles, CA 10/14/2017 (Photo by John McCoy, Los Angeles Daily News/SCNG)

    Los Angeles Dodgers right fielder Yasiel Puig #66 rounds first after his 7th ining homer. The Dodgers hosted the Chicago Cubs in the first game of the National League Championship series at Dodger Stadium. Los Angeles, CA 10/14/2017 (Photo by John McCoy, Los Angeles Daily News/SCNG)

  • Los Angeles Dodgers’ Yasiel Puig celebrates his home run against the Chicago Cubs during the seventh inning of Game 1 of baseball’s National League Championship Series in Los Angeles, Saturday, Oct. 14, 2017. (AP Photo/Matt Slocum)

    Los Angeles Dodgers’ Yasiel Puig celebrates his home run against the Chicago Cubs during the seventh inning of Game 1 of baseball’s National League Championship Series in Los Angeles, Saturday, Oct. 14, 2017. (AP Photo/Matt Slocum)

  • Los Angeles Dodgers’ Yasiel Puig rounds third base after hitting a solo home run in the sixth inning of a National League Championship Series baseball game against the Chicago Cubs at Dodger Stadium on Saturday, Oct. 14, 2017 in Los Angeles. (Photo by Keith Birmingham, Pasadena Star-News/SCNG)

    Los Angeles Dodgers’ Yasiel Puig rounds third base after hitting a solo home run in the sixth inning of a National League Championship Series baseball game against the Chicago Cubs at Dodger Stadium on Saturday, Oct. 14, 2017 in Los Angeles. (Photo by Keith Birmingham, Pasadena Star-News/SCNG)

  • Los Angeles Dodgers’ Yasiel Puig rounds third base after hitting a solo home run in the sixth inning of a National League Championship Series baseball game against the Chicago Cubs at Dodger Stadium on Saturday, Oct. 14, 2017 in Los Angeles. (Photo by Keith Birmingham, Pasadena Star-News/SCNG)

    Los Angeles Dodgers’ Yasiel Puig rounds third base after hitting a solo home run in the sixth inning of a National League Championship Series baseball game against the Chicago Cubs at Dodger Stadium on Saturday, Oct. 14, 2017 in Los Angeles. (Photo by Keith Birmingham, Pasadena Star-News/SCNG)

  • Los Angeles Dodgers’ Yasiel Puig celebrates his home run against the Chicago Cubs during the seventh inning of Game 1 of baseball’s National League Championship Series in Los Angeles, Saturday, Oct. 14, 2017. (AP Photo/Matt Slocum)

    Los Angeles Dodgers’ Yasiel Puig celebrates his home run against the Chicago Cubs during the seventh inning of Game 1 of baseball’s National League Championship Series in Los Angeles, Saturday, Oct. 14, 2017. (AP Photo/Matt Slocum)

  • The Dodgers’ Yasiel Puig looks to the sky as he trots toward home plate after hitting a solo home run during the sixth inning of Game 1 of the NLCS on Saturday night at Dodger Stadium. Puig also had an RBI double in a 5-2 victory. (Photo by Keith Birmingham, Pasadena Star-News/SCNG)

    The Dodgers’ Yasiel Puig looks to the sky as he trots toward home plate after hitting a solo home run during the sixth inning of Game 1 of the NLCS on Saturday night at Dodger Stadium. Puig also had an RBI double in a 5-2 victory. (Photo by Keith Birmingham, Pasadena Star-News/SCNG)

  • Los Angeles Dodgers right fielder Yasiel Puig #66 is congratulated by Los Angeles Dodgers catcher Yasmani Grandal #9 after his 7th inning homer. The Dodgers hosted the Chicago Cubs in the first game of the National League Championship series at Dodger Stadium. Los Angeles, CA 10/14/2017 (Photo by John McCoy, Los Angeles Daily News/SCNG)

    Los Angeles Dodgers right fielder Yasiel Puig #66 is congratulated by Los Angeles Dodgers catcher Yasmani Grandal #9 after his 7th inning homer. The Dodgers hosted the Chicago Cubs in the first game of the National League Championship series at Dodger Stadium. Los Angeles, CA 10/14/2017 (Photo by John McCoy, Los Angeles Daily News/SCNG)

  • Los Angeles Dodgers’ Yasiel Puig celebrates with teammates after hitting a solo home run in the sixth inning of a National League Championship Series baseball game against the Chicago Cubs at Dodger Stadium on Saturday, Oct. 14, 2017 in Los Angeles. (Photo by Keith Birmingham, Pasadena Star-News/SCNG)

    Los Angeles Dodgers’ Yasiel Puig celebrates with teammates after hitting a solo home run in the sixth inning of a National League Championship Series baseball game against the Chicago Cubs at Dodger Stadium on Saturday, Oct. 14, 2017 in Los Angeles. (Photo by Keith Birmingham, Pasadena Star-News/SCNG)

  • Los Angeles Dodgers’ Yasiel Puig sticks out his tongue after hitting a home run against the Chicago Cubs during the seventh inning of Game 1 of baseball’s National League Championship Series in Los Angeles, Saturday, Oct. 14, 2017. (AP Photo/Matt Slocum)

    Los Angeles Dodgers’ Yasiel Puig sticks out his tongue after hitting a home run against the Chicago Cubs during the seventh inning of Game 1 of baseball’s National League Championship Series in Los Angeles, Saturday, Oct. 14, 2017. (AP Photo/Matt Slocum)

  • Los Angeles Dodgers right fielder Yasiel Puig #66 hits a homer in the 7th inning. The Dodgers hosted the Chicago Cubs in the first game of the National League Championship series at Dodger Stadium. Los Angeles, CA 10/14/2017 (Photo by John McCoy, Los Angeles Daily News/SCNG)

    Los Angeles Dodgers right fielder Yasiel Puig #66 hits a homer in the 7th inning. The Dodgers hosted the Chicago Cubs in the first game of the National League Championship series at Dodger Stadium. Los Angeles, CA 10/14/2017 (Photo by John McCoy, Los Angeles Daily News/SCNG)

  • The Dodgers’ Yasiel Puig celebrates as he watches the flight of his RBI double in the fifth inning of Game 1 of the NLCS on Saturday night at Dodger Stadium. Puig added a solo home run two innings later to help his team to a 5-2 victory over the Cubs. (Photo by Keith Birmingham, Pasadena Star-News/SCNG)

    The Dodgers’ Yasiel Puig celebrates as he watches the flight of his RBI double in the fifth inning of Game 1 of the NLCS on Saturday night at Dodger Stadium. Puig added a solo home run two innings later to help his team to a 5-2 victory over the Cubs. (Photo by Keith Birmingham, Pasadena Star-News/SCNG)

  • Dodgers right fielder Yasiel Puig celebrates as he tracks the flight of his RBI double during the fifth inning of Game 1 of the NLCS on Saturday night at Dodger Stadium. Puig added a home run in the seventh inning of a 5-2 victory. (Photo by John McCoy, Los Angeles Daily News/SCNG)

    Dodgers right fielder Yasiel Puig celebrates as he tracks the flight of his RBI double during the fifth inning of Game 1 of the NLCS on Saturday night at Dodger Stadium. Puig added a home run in the seventh inning of a 5-2 victory. (Photo by John McCoy, Los Angeles Daily News/SCNG)

  • The crowd cheers in the 5th inning as Los Angeles Dodgers right fielder Yasiel Puig #66 hits a run scoring double. The Dodgers hosted the Chicago Cubs in the first game of the National League Championship series at Dodger Stadium. Los Angeles, CA 10/14/2017 (Photo by John McCoy, Los Angeles Daily News/SCNG)

    The crowd cheers in the 5th inning as Los Angeles Dodgers right fielder Yasiel Puig #66 hits a run scoring double. The Dodgers hosted the Chicago Cubs in the first game of the National League Championship series at Dodger Stadium. Los Angeles, CA 10/14/2017 (Photo by John McCoy, Los Angeles Daily News/SCNG)

  • Los Angeles Dodgers right fielder Yasiel Puig #66 celebrates as he runs toward 1st base after hitting a run scoring double in the 5th inning. The Dodgers hosted the Chicago Cubs in the first game of the National League Championship series at Dodger Stadium. Los Angeles, CA 10/14/2017 (Photo by John McCoy, Los Angeles Daily News/SCNG)

    Los Angeles Dodgers right fielder Yasiel Puig #66 celebrates as he runs toward 1st base after hitting a run scoring double in the 5th inning. The Dodgers hosted the Chicago Cubs in the first game of the National League Championship series at Dodger Stadium. Los Angeles, CA 10/14/2017 (Photo by John McCoy, Los Angeles Daily News/SCNG)

  • Los Angeles Dodgers right fielder Yasiel Puig #66 stands on 2nd base after hitting a run scoring double in the 5th inning. The Dodgers hosted the Chicago Cubs in the first game of the National League Championship series at Dodger Stadium. Los Angeles, CA 10/14/2017 (Photo by John McCoy, Los Angeles Daily News/SCNG)

    Los Angeles Dodgers right fielder Yasiel Puig #66 stands on 2nd base after hitting a run scoring double in the 5th inning. The Dodgers hosted the Chicago Cubs in the first game of the National League Championship series at Dodger Stadium. Los Angeles, CA 10/14/2017 (Photo by John McCoy, Los Angeles Daily News/SCNG)

  • Los Angeles Dodgers’ Yasiel Puig reacts after hitting a RBI double in the fifth inning of a National League Championship Series baseball game against the Chicago Cubs at Dodger Stadium on Saturday, Oct. 14, 2017 in Los Angeles. (Photo by Keith Birmingham, Pasadena Star-News/SCNG)

    Los Angeles Dodgers’ Yasiel Puig reacts after hitting a RBI double in the fifth inning of a National League Championship Series baseball game against the Chicago Cubs at Dodger Stadium on Saturday, Oct. 14, 2017 in Los Angeles. (Photo by Keith Birmingham, Pasadena Star-News/SCNG)

  • Los Angeles Dodgers’ Yasiel Puig cheers on his team in the seventh inning of a National League Championship Series baseball game against the Chicago Cubs at Dodger Stadium on Saturday, Oct. 14, 2017 in Los Angeles. (Photo by Keith Birmingham, Pasadena Star-News/SCNG)

    Los Angeles Dodgers’ Yasiel Puig cheers on his team in the seventh inning of a National League Championship Series baseball game against the Chicago Cubs at Dodger Stadium on Saturday, Oct. 14, 2017 in Los Angeles. (Photo by Keith Birmingham, Pasadena Star-News/SCNG)

  • Los Angeles Dodgers right fielder Yasiel Puig, middle, celebrates the Dodgers’ 5-2 win with third baseman Justin Turner, left, and first baseman Cody Bellinger after Game 1 of baseball’s National League Championship Series against the Chicago Cubs in Los Angeles, Saturday, Oct. 14, 2017. (AP Photo/Matt Slocum)

    Los Angeles Dodgers right fielder Yasiel Puig, middle, celebrates the Dodgers’ 5-2 win with third baseman Justin Turner, left, and first baseman Cody Bellinger after Game 1 of baseball’s National League Championship Series against the Chicago Cubs in Los Angeles, Saturday, Oct. 14, 2017. (AP Photo/Matt Slocum)

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LOS ANGELES — There was a time, not so long ago, that many of his Dodger teammates wished Yasiel Puig was working in a different room.

That has happened. Most of them are gone. He is still here.

He is not missing cutoff men. He is not acting out (as much). He is on time (somewhat more often).

In 2013 Puig played a harlequin version of right field as the Dodgers were eliminated from the playoffs, 9-0, in St. Louis. The clubhouse consensus was that their Wild Horse, who had done an impressive cannonball into the major leagues that summer and was selling shelves of jerseys every week at Dodger Stadium, needed to either grow up or get out.

Now Puig is 26 and only three of those teammates (Clayton Kershaw, Adrian Gonzalez and Kenley Jansen) are still Dodgers. On Saturday night at Wrigley Field, only one position player, Justin Turner, was on the lineup card for both this game and Game 6 in Wrigley Field last year.

Puig is 26. He can become a free agent after next season, but right now he is part of the furniture. He is not a team leader, but he has become a good follower.

And, right now, he is a much better baseball player than you realize, if you get charmed by the tongue-flashing and the crotch-chopping and the bat-flipping.

He was at his best in Game 1, drilling a hollow-point double for the Dodgers’ first run and then lofting a home run for L.A.’s fourth, in the 5-2 win over Chicago. Typically, he flipped his bat for the double and he wasn’t sure on the homer.

“When I hit the homer I thought it was going,” Puig said, “but later I see the left fielder say ‘I got it,’ and I started running. I think the wind helped me a little bit tonight.”

Then he blew into the microphone. Home runs and sound effects. That’s full service.

Puig does his postgame interviews, at least the ones on the podium, in English now, at least when he is asked questions in English. That is something Fernando Valenzuela and Vladimir Guerrero never did.

Latino players have quietly smoldered over the fact that they are expected to conduct media responsibilities in English, when their slightest foible can be either misinterpreted or mocked or both. When Japanese and Korean players make it to the major leagues, their interpreters are there as a matter of course.

So this is not a small thing. Puig is working at being a professional. He is an active manager of his Wild Horse Foundation. He was not going to misbehave his way out of the big leagues, although Dave Roberts and the front office sent him to Oklahoma City last summer and demonstrated to him, and to others, that the Dodgers could win without him. Roberts also benched him last month when Puig’s clock started malfunctioning again.

The light might have shone brightest on Justin Turner, Corey Seager and Cody Bellinger this year, but Puig provided the Dodgers with 28 home runs. That is a career high and so are his RBI (74) and slugging percentage. Puig walks in 11.2 percent of his plate appearances, almost double his rate of last year, which is perhaps a byproduct of his eighth spot in the batting order most of the season.

“He’s really made exponential strides,” Roberts said. “I couldn’t be more proud.”

Puig was asked if he was having more fun than ever. “No, when I was five years old I played better,” he said.

That was just Horseplay. Puig knows where he was and where he is now.

“I try to do the best I can in this game,” he said. “I’m coming here and preparing more now than at any other time with this team. My teammates helped me a lot, and so did the manager and the coaches. I’m so proud of myself and I want to keep going.

“I grew up a little bit more, and I go to home plate having fun, because I know if I hit nothing, do nothing in the game, my teammates are going to have my back.”

Puig had a .740 OPS last year with only 45 RBI in 368 plate appearances. This year his OPS is .833.  Because of that he is now one of the most underpaid outfielders around, with a $6.5 million check this year and $7.5 million next year, after which he can become a much-desired free agent.

So there’s a difference. Nobody wants Puig to leave the room anymore. Not when the party is getting started.

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Whicker: Dodgers dodge the Death Ray (for now)

LOS ANGELES — Robbie Ray had hooked the Dodgers to his joystick and pulled them wherever he wanted.

Then the Arizona Diamondbacks asked Ray to try something different when the National League Division Series came around. They changed the settings a bit.

And he lost. That was different.

There was a bus outside Dodger Stadium awaiting the Diamondbacks, but Ray had placed no one under it. He said the fact he was starting with two days off after he had thrown 34 high-energy pitches Wednesday night had nothing to do with his most erratic start of the season against Los Angeles.

But Manager Torey Lovullo, who has been rolling sevens for months now, removed a major variable out of an equation that had worked time and again.

The Dodgers won Game 2, 8-5, and take a 2-0 lead to the Sonoran desert. Their next win will take them into the National League Championship Series for a second consecutive year.

“I felt great,” Ray said. “It wasn’t exactly like they were roping the ball all over the field on me.”

The Dodgers did not have to. The curveball that Ray had used like a scalpel in his three wins over the Dodgers was now a wayward drone. The slider was a grenade at the feet of catcher Chris Iannetta. Ray threw 88 pitches, three of them wild, only 54 for strikes.

He gave up a second-inning run on two walks and a wild pitch and a grounder. He gave up the Dodgers’ second run on a  wild pitch – “I was trying to bury the slider,” he said – and the third one scored when shortstop Ketel Marte neatly gloved Chris Taylor’s hard bouncer with bases loaded, but could do nothing else.

Ray hit Justin Turner to lead off the fifth and left one batter later, and the Dodgers kept jabbing until they scored four runs. Styles make fights. The home team went back to a minimalist approach, and Ray kept loading up and missing.

“The ball was coming out of my hand great,” Ray said. “I was just all over the place. I got out there and tried to do a little too much.

“But they ground out at-bats on me. I wasn’t able to land my curveball in the strike zone like I had in the other games. They weren’t swinging at the low ones this time.”

That was pretty much what Logan Forsythe said, after he got the first hit off Ray and then scored the second run.

“His fastball played well like it did in the past,” Forsythe said. “Off-speed wise, he was down in the one but it wasn’t that good strike at the bottom of the zone. In the past we’ve gotten out of our approach and tried to do too much. When we keep him in the zone, we do well.”

It was the same type of controlled relentlessness, the preciousness of every plate appearance, that the Dodgers had shown when they set the summer on fire. They have 14 hits and 17 runs in two games, and are 10 for 30 with men in scoring position.

More to the point, they have defused the Death Ray that had zapped them in August and September.

Ray was 3-0 against the Dodgers this season with 53 strikeouts in 32⅓ innings. Corey Seager is now 0 for 8 against him with eight strikeouts. Cody Bellinger is hitting 1 for 9. But Forsythe and Taylor had decent numbers against the lefty from suburban Nashville, who, to be fair, has excelled against most teams. He was 15-5 with a 2.89 in the regular season.

“It’s always a tall task against him, trying to battle and get baserunners,” Dodgers manager Dave Roberts said. “But tonight he wasn’t that sharp. The fastball command wasn’t like it had been, and it seemed like he couldn’t strike the breaking ball.”

Real Dodger Stadium veterans looked at the spell Ray had cast on the Dodgers and were transported back to 1966.

A St. Louis left-hander named Larry Jaster faced the Dodgers five times that season. He shut them out five times, too.

Jaster beat Don Drysdale and Claude Osteen twice apiece. He beat Don Sutton. He gave up 24 hits in 45 innings. And that was against a National League championship team.

Which is why many people around the Dodgers blinked Wednesday night when Ray came out of the Arizona dugout during the wild-card win over Colorado.

Ray threw 34 pitches in relief in what became a 11-8 victory. It was 6-4 when he entered the game in the fourth inning. He left with two out in the sixth, and his baserunner scored to cut it to 6-5. But he had cut through the heart of the Colorado lineup to preserve the lead.

There were those who said Lovullo called it exactly right, that there was no need to save Ray for the Dodgers if Arizona didn’t survive the Rockies. And that’s certainly defensible, of course.

But it forced Lovullo to use Taijuan Walker in Game 1, and Walker was shelled for four runs in the only inning he worked. The Diamondbacks lost, 9-5, on a night when they crashed four home runs off a beatable Clayton Kershaw.

Pitchers have unshakable routines for a reason. They are synchronized to do certain things at certain times. Bemoan it if you must. It irritates anyone who remembers the days before pitchers were treated like porcelain dolls. But it’s real.

So today it looks like the kind of mistake that a five-game series rarely forgives. But Games 3-4 are still out there. If the Dodgers lose both, the Death Ray looms on Thursday night, fueled to the max.

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Whicker: Dodgers had a right to party after 5th consecutive NL West title

  • Los Angeles Dodgers’ Charlie Culberson, left, has beer poured on him by Josh Fields in the locker room after the Dodgers won the NL West title with a 4-2 defeat of the San Francisco Giants in a baseball game, Friday, Sept. 22, 2017, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill)

    Los Angeles Dodgers’ Charlie Culberson, left, has beer poured on him by Josh Fields in the locker room after the Dodgers won the NL West title with a 4-2 defeat of the San Francisco Giants in a baseball game, Friday, Sept. 22, 2017, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill)

  • Los Angeles Dodgers’ Yasiel Puig celebrates in the locker room after the Dodgers won the NL West title with a 4-2 defeat of the San Francisco Giants in a baseball game, Friday, Sept. 22, 2017, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill)

    Los Angeles Dodgers’ Yasiel Puig celebrates in the locker room after the Dodgers won the NL West title with a 4-2 defeat of the San Francisco Giants in a baseball game, Friday, Sept. 22, 2017, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill)

  • Los Angeles Dodgers’ Ross Stripling has beer poured on him in the locker room after the Dodgers won the NL West title with a 4-2 defeat of the San Francisco Giants in a baseball game, Friday, Sept. 22, 2017, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill)

    Los Angeles Dodgers’ Ross Stripling has beer poured on him in the locker room after the Dodgers won the NL West title with a 4-2 defeat of the San Francisco Giants in a baseball game, Friday, Sept. 22, 2017, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill)

  • Los Angeles Dodgers’ Yasiel Puig, right, pours beer over the head of Augie Lopez, a friend of Puig, in the clubhouse after the Dodgers won the NL West title with a 4-2 defeat of the San Francisco Giants in a baseball game, Friday, Sept. 22, 2017, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill)

    Los Angeles Dodgers’ Yasiel Puig, right, pours beer over the head of Augie Lopez, a friend of Puig, in the clubhouse after the Dodgers won the NL West title with a 4-2 defeat of the San Francisco Giants in a baseball game, Friday, Sept. 22, 2017, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill)

  • Dodgers pitcher Clayton Kershaw has sparkling wine and beer poured onto him in the locker room after the Dodgers clinched their fifth consecutive NL West division title with a 4-2 victory over the San Francisco Giants on Friday night at Dodger Stadium. (AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill)

    Dodgers pitcher Clayton Kershaw has sparkling wine and beer poured onto him in the locker room after the Dodgers clinched their fifth consecutive NL West division title with a 4-2 victory over the San Francisco Giants on Friday night at Dodger Stadium. (AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill)

  • Los Angeles Dodgers’ Kenta Maeda, of Japan, sprays beer in the locker room after the Dodgers won the NL West title with a 4-2 defeat of the San Francisco Giants in a baseball game, Friday, Sept. 22, 2017, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill)

    Los Angeles Dodgers’ Kenta Maeda, of Japan, sprays beer in the locker room after the Dodgers won the NL West title with a 4-2 defeat of the San Francisco Giants in a baseball game, Friday, Sept. 22, 2017, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill)

  • Los Angeles Dodgers’ Logan Forsythe sprays sparkling wine in the locker room after the Dodgers won the NL West title with a 4-2 defeat of the San Francisco Giants in a baseball game, Friday, Sept. 22, 2017, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill)

    Los Angeles Dodgers’ Logan Forsythe sprays sparkling wine in the locker room after the Dodgers won the NL West title with a 4-2 defeat of the San Francisco Giants in a baseball game, Friday, Sept. 22, 2017, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill)

  • Los Angeles Dodgers’ Adrian Gonzalez celebrates in the locker room after the Dodgers won the NL West title with a 4-2 defeat of the San Francisco Giants in a baseball game, Friday, Sept. 22, 2017, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill)

    Los Angeles Dodgers’ Adrian Gonzalez celebrates in the locker room after the Dodgers won the NL West title with a 4-2 defeat of the San Francisco Giants in a baseball game, Friday, Sept. 22, 2017, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill)

  • Los Angeles Dodgers’ Yasiel Puig has sparkling wine poured onto him in the locker room after the Dodgers won the NL West title with a 4-2 defeat of the San Francisco Giants in a baseball game, Friday, Sept. 22, 2017, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill)

    Los Angeles Dodgers’ Yasiel Puig has sparkling wine poured onto him in the locker room after the Dodgers won the NL West title with a 4-2 defeat of the San Francisco Giants in a baseball game, Friday, Sept. 22, 2017, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill)

  • The Dodgers celebrate after they defeated the San Francisco Giants, 4-2, to win their fifth consecutive NL West title on Friday night at Dodger Stadium. (AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill)

    The Dodgers celebrate after they defeated the San Francisco Giants, 4-2, to win their fifth consecutive NL West title on Friday night at Dodger Stadium. (AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill)

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LOS ANGELES — No other sport talks so much about the big one, then celebrates so hard over the little one.

Kenley Jansen got Ryder Jones for the final out of the contested regular season on Friday night, and here came the champagne, the beer cooler, the protective goggles, and a whole Havana boatload of cigars.

The wives and children came into the inner sanctum, the clubhouse floor began to flood, and the whole immeasurable masthead of Dodgers personnel came down to celebrate the conquest of four other baseball teams.

The NHL and NBA and NFL don’t do that. You win a series and you shake hands and gulp for air and then you do it again. A lot of hockey and basketball teams don’t even know they’ve made the playoffs.

Baseball is different. Yeah, it seems a little much. But it’s harmless if you avoid the broken glass, or if you’re not pitching coach Rick Honeycutt, standing by a doorway as Clayton Kershaw and Kenley Jansen approach with full bottles and fiendish smiles.

They empted it all on Honeycutt. “You’re giving me a heart attack!” Honeycutt cried. But he pitched in 30 postseason games and he has been running the Dodgers’ staff since 2006. He knows the sticky smoke of victory.

“This one is special,” Manager Dave Roberts said, behind dark glasses.

All sports have unique demands. Baseball is a long-playing mind game. There are 162 games in 180 days. You can spend literally half your life in a ballpark. In hockey you have team dinner on off days and in football you have quarterbacks buying steak dinners for their carnivorous linemen. Baseball players rarely get those moments of release, not until their siege of a season is lifted.

The Dodgers have won five consecutive division titles. The last team to do it was Philadelphia, from 2007 through 2011. Chase Utley was on all five of those teams, on three of these.

“It’s no easy feat,” Utley said. “You have to have the players, and some luck, too. Those Phillies teams had a lot of talent,  but you need more than that. Since I’ve been here, everybody has bought into what we’re doing.”

The Phillies won the World Series in 2008 and won the NLCS in 2009, but squandered home-field advantages in losses to San Francisco and St. Louis in 2010 and 2011. The Dodgers began this streak in 2013. Only six of those players are still here, and the streak has required two managers and two general managers.

It’s a far different team, maybe even different since they ran aground with 15 losses in 16 games, and woke up like stockbrokers in late 2008, half their investment gone.

“I definitely believe that will be good for us,” Utley said. “Nobody enjoys losing games. But we were going so great for such a long time. It wasn’t realistic.”

“Ten games into that mini-slide, I remember that we were talking about how this could be a really good thing for us,” General Manager Andrew Friedman said. “Then when it lasted a little big longer, we said, all right, that’s enough.

“But the work ethic never wavered. This group hadn’t had any adversity. So this could set us up well for October.”

Through 162 games, unexpected pieces fall from the sky. Sometimes they’re big, vicious boulders. For the Dodgers they were mostly fruit baskets and ambrosia. Late-inning rallies, three months between lost series.

Cody Bellinger was the main gift from above, and he was the appropriate cause of this 98th win, driving an unfortunate pitch from Jeff Samardzija deep into the bedlam of the right-field pavilion.

It was Bellinger’s 39th home run and broke a National League rookie record, and there have been some powerful rookies. Bellinger didn’t even start the season in L.A. What was Friedman’s realistic expectation in the spring?

He laughed. “I thought he’d be a very good X factor for us in the second half of the season if the stars aligned,” Friedman said. “I didn’t know the stars would align in April.”

Roberts also said this was special because of the muscle in the division, because Arizona is definitely headed for the playoffs and Colorado probably is. That’s 38 games against tough lineups, against MVP candidates like Paul Goldschmidt, Charlie Blackmon and Nolan Arenado.

“It was almost like the old American League East,” Honeycutt said. “We had some tough games. But these guys have been warriors.”

The Atlanta Braves finished first in 14 consecutive full seasons, beginning in 1991, and they partied hard every time. Waking up the morning after, with the room moving? That’s adversity, too.

The Dodgers just hope their sleepless nights stretch into November.

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