Dodgers Clinch Title When Cards Win

As Vin Scully would say, The Dodgers clinched their 10th West Division Title and the 16th post-season berth. The time is 2:32. That was when the St. Louis smashed the last hopes of the Arizona Diamondbacks with a 10-3 victory, giving Los Angeles their first outright title since 2004.

The win changed the complexion of the Dodgers' starting lineup tonight. Lefthander Eric Stults will start instead of Greg Maddux and Russell Martin will get a real night off. Rafael Furcal draws his first start since mid-May, Jeff Kent is back as a starter and the regulars will probably not play more than a few innings (if that) but the home crowd will be able to show their appreciation to the players that brought them into the playoffs.

 Tonight's lineup:
Rafael Furcal ss
Jeff Kent 2b
Manny Ramirez lf
Andre Ethier rf
James Loney 1b
Casey Blake 3b
Matt Kemp cf
Danny Ardoin c
Eric Stults p
Dodger manager Joe Torre clinched his 13th straight postseason berth, which is one shy of the record for a manager, held by Bobby Cox (1991-2005). Torre has more postseason victories (76) than any manger in Major League history.

On Torre's staff, batting coach Don Mattingly will be participating in his fifth straight postseason as a coach and third base coach Larry Bowa in his third straight. Both pitching coach Rick Honeycutt and first base coach Mariano Duncan will be in their second postseasons as a coach and bullpen coach Ken Howell in his first. Bench coach Bob Schaefer is set to take part in his first big league playoff series as a uniformed coach in his 10th season on a Major League staff.

  Torre said his club would wait until after its game to celebrate. However across the Dodgers Nation the celebration has already begun.

  After an ugly 2007 season, the Dodgers got off to a stumbling start in 2008 as injuries knocked Rafael Furcal, Brad Penny, Nomar Garciaparra, Jeff Kent, Hong-Chic Kuo, Scott Proctor, Cory Wade, Andy LaRoche and Takashi Saito missing portions of the season and Andruw Jones was an exceedingly expensive flop. For the second straight season, Jason Schmidt was unable to perform

General Manager Ned Colletti was under fire and many thought his job was on the line before he added key players Casey Blake and Manny Ramirez, who has been the physical and spiritual leader since he arrived on August 31.

Since he arrived, the Dodgers are 29-21, which included a seemingly disastrous eight-game losing streak. However, the club rallied to put together an eight-game winning streak that has turned into a run of 18 wins in 23 games that resulted in the division title.

With this postseason berth, the Dodgers join the Cardinals as the only two National League teams to reach the postseason in three of the past five seasons and each of the three wins came under different managers, Jim Tracy (2004), Grady Little (2006) and Torre in 2008. Colletti teams have reached the postseason in two of his three seasons.

The Dodgers will start the Division Series with Games 1 and 2 on Oct. 1-2 on the road, Game 3 and a possible Game 4 on Oct. 4-5 at Dodger Stadium and a potential Game 5 on Oct. 7 on the road.

If the Milwaukee Brewers win the Wild Card, the Dodgers will play the East winner, either New York or Philadelphia. If Milwaukee doesn't win the Wild Card, the Dodgers will play the Cubs.

Regardless, the Dodgers will open on the road because, while they will finish in first place, they'll finish with the worst record of the three division champions. Even if they win their final four games, they will finish 87-75, assuring the lowest win total for a Dodgers first-place team since 1900, when 136 games was a full schedule.

Great Support
The Dodgers' have sold out tonight's game, marking the club's fourth sellout on this six-game homestand. The Dodgers' 2008 paid attendance stands at 3,678,181, which ranks second in the National League and third in baseball.

After tonight, the Dodgers will have registered the third-highest attendance in club history, behind just 2007's 3,857,036 mark and the 2006 attendance of 3,758,545. In the last five seasons, Los Angeles has posted the top three attendance marks and five of the top seven in franchise history:

 The Top Six:
2007	3,758,545
2008	3,678,181 (1 game left)
1982	3,608,881
2005	3,603,646
1983	3,510,313
2004	3,488,283