DENVER (AP) — Even for a storied franchise like the Los Angeles Dodgers, this was a season for the ages.
Corey Seager had three hits to break out of a funk and the Dodgers head into the postseason with a World Series-or-bust mentality, holding off the playoff-bound Colorado Rockies 6-3 in the regular-season finale Sunday.
“All of our goals are to be the best team in baseball,” Chase Utley said.
They certainly were through 162 games.
At 104-58, the Dodgers tied for the second-most wins in franchise history with the 1942 squad (104-50) in Brooklyn. The ’53 team went 105-49.
What that gets them is home-field advantage throughout the postseason. Now, on to the main event.
“We’ve been waiting for this day to come to finally get to what we’ve been looking forward to since spring training,” manager Dave Roberts said.
On a day Charlie Blackmon wrapped up the NL batting title, the Rockies finished the regular season 87-75. It’s their best mark since 2009, which was the last time the team went to the postseason before clinching the second NL wild-card spot Saturday.
The Rockies travel to Arizona to face the Diamondbacks in a one-game playoff on Wednesday. The winner will meet Los Angeles in Game 1 of an NL Division Series on Friday at Dodger Stadium.
“We know everything about Arizona,” Nolan Arenado said. “But they know the same about us, too.”
Seager got a big dose of confidence Sunday by going 3 for 3 with a double. He batted .179 in September.
“To have the ball hit some outfield grass and to log some hits, that’s good for any player,” Roberts said. “As we approach Friday, just having guys healthy and in a good frame of mind. We couldn’t have scripted it any better.”
Reliever turned starter for the day Ross Stripling and five of his bullpen brethren stifled the Colorado lineup early. Kenta Maeda (13-6) earned the win by throwing two scoreless innings and Josh Fields picked up the save.
Blackmon was 1 for 2 on the final day to claim the batting title with a .331 average. It’s the fourth time in five years a Rockies player has captured the crown.
The outfielder with the bushy beard and mullet also led the majors in hits (213), runs (137), triples (14) and multigame hits (68) as he put together an MVP-caliber season from the leadoff spot.
After a ceremonial trip around the stadium to thank the fans, the Rockies retreated to the clubhouse for a quick toast. Manager Bud Black raised a glass to Blackmon and Blackmon lauded his teammates.
“We didn’t get in by much. But that’s all it takes,” Blackmon said. “We’ve got the opportunity.”
The Colorado clubhouse reeked Sunday morning from all the bubbly and beer that was sprayed the night before in celebration.
“Smells like a frat house,” first baseman Mark Reynolds said. “But it’s a really good smell in a baseball clubhouse.”
Rockies right-hander Jon Gray (10-4, 3.67 ERA) has allowed three or less runs in 13 straight starts heading into the contest Wednesday at Arizona.
“It’s just another game for me,” Gray said. “If you try to make it anything more than another game, it’s not going to go well.”
TAKE A DAY OFF
Roberts had an edict for his team: Take Monday off and relax. But he knows it’s a hard sell for this team.
“Players want to get better,” Roberts said. “But I encourage guys to stay away from the ball park.”
LOSING HIS CROWN
Arenado’s two-year reign as the RBI champion was halted by Miami’s Giancarlo Stanton. Arenado finished with 130.
“I want it, but I think I’d want it more if we weren’t going to the playoffs,” Arenado said. “The fact we’re in, I’m like, ‘I kind of did what I had to do.'”
THIS & THAT
Dodgers OF Joc Pederson had two RBI doubles after replacing Yasiel Puig in the fourth. … The Rockies drew 2,953,650 fans to Coors Field, the most since 2001. … Kyle Freeland (11-11) went three innings and allowed two runs. Freeland finished ties with teammate German Marquez for most wins among rookies with 11.
Dodgers: LHP Clayton Kershaw waits to see if he will face the Diamondbacks or the Rockies.
Rockies: Get set for their first postseason game since 2009.
More AP baseball: https://apnews.com/tag/MLBbaseball