Dodgers Poised for Playoff Action

It only seems as if the Dodgers franchise came to life once Manny Ramirez showed up on the club's doorstep last season. The fact is, the Dodgers are about as playoff-savvy as any team this decade. If the season ended today, the Dodgers, Red Sox, Yankees and Phillies would be in the postseason for the third time in four years. No team reached the playoffs every year from 2006-08.

In the National League, only the Dodgers and Cardinals have been to the playoffs four times in the past six seasons, assuming both advance this year as expected.

And at the helm is one of the most playoff-tested managers around, Joe Torre is about to reach the postseason for the 14th consecutive season. That would tie the record set by the Braves' Bobby Cox from 1991-2005.

The Dodgers haven't been able to reach the pinnacle, though, and they are generally considered the NL's third-best team this year behind the Phillies and Cardinals. Yet it's the Dodgers who hold the NL's best record at 91-61, 2 1/2 games better than Philadelphia and St. Louis.

Since the start of play on May 3, the Dodgers have held at least a share of the best record in the NL for every day except one. The trailed the Cardinals by a game heading into action on Sept. 11.

NOTES, QUOTES
--SS Rafael Furcal had two more hits Wednesday at Washington to give him three multi-hit performances in his last four games. His previous three multi-hit showings came in a span of 18 games. Furcal is batting .316 (25-for-79) this month after posting a .218 batting average in August.

--LHP Clayton Kershaw had his relief outing moved up a day, and he pitched two scoreless innings Tuesday in the Dodgers' blowout victory over Washington. Kershaw, who hadn't pitched since Sept. 4 due to a separated right (non-throwing) shoulder, is expected to start Sunday at Pittsburgh.

BY THE NUMBERS: 41 -- Doubles for Andre Ethier through Sept. 19, the first time a Dodgers player has reached 40 doubles since Shawn Green did it in 2003.

ROSTER REPORT
--2B Orlando Hudson was back in the lineup last night. He did not start in three of the previous four games as Ronnie Belliard took over at second. Hudson might be out again for a few days, though, as he injured his surgically repaired left wrist in a fall in the ninth inning. The injury was not in the same area that he had the surgery and he still has a good range of motion, but he may miss a number of games.

--CF Matt Kemp. Brad Ausmus said that in his 17 seasons in the major leagues, he has never seen anyone like Matt Kemp. "At 25, he's probably the most complete player at that age that I've ever played with, in terms of hitting, hitting with power, running and stealing bases, playing defense, arm strength," Ausmus said. Told of what Ausmus said about him, Kemp said, "I have to thank God for that, man. He's blessed me with what I'm doing now." Kemp, who turned 25 yesterday, is batting .304 with 25 home runs, 97 runs batted in and 34 steals. No player in franchise history has batted .300 or more, hit 25 home runs or more, driven in 100 runs or more and stolen 30 bases or more in a season.

--LHP Clayton Kershaw, on pitching two innings Tuesday for his first appearance since Sept. 4 because of a separated right shoulder: "I don't care when I pitch, just as long as I get to. I'm just happy to be back. It's exciting for me to be out there again and get my feet wet. I wasn't too worried about anything, really. I feel fine, my shoulder feels great, no ache or anything."

--PH Jim Tome said that he continues to be hindered by the foot problems that have limited him to 10 pinch-hit appearances in his three weeks with the Dodgers. "I came over to try to help," Thome said. "But this little foot thing I've had is a pain. . . . It's not any worse than it was two weeks ago, but it's not any better." Thome singled in the ninth inning last night, jogged to first base and was replaced by pinch-runner Juan Castro.

--RHP Vicente Padilla will look to bounce back from his worst start with the Dodgers when he takes the mound against the Nationals tonight. Padilla gave up four runs in his last outing Sept. 18 against the Giants. He is 3-0 with the Dodgers with a 2.96 ERA over five starts.

Your Chance to Play General Manager
The Dodgers won't talk about it but they only need two more wins in the final 10 games to earn a playoff slot. Check the current roster below and come up with the 25-man roster you would take into the first round.

    ROTATION:
   LHP Randy Wolf
   RHP Chad Billingsley
   LHP Clayton Kershaw
   RHP Vicente Padilla
   RHP Jon Garland
   RHP Hiroki Kuroda
   
    BULLPEN:
   RHP Jonathan Broxton 
   LHP George Sherrill
   LHP Hong-Chih Kuo
   RHP Ramon Troncoso
   RHP Ronald Belisario
   RHP James McDonald
   RHP Charlie Haeger
   RHP Jeff Weaver
   LHP Scott Elbert
   RHP Guillermo Mota
   
    CATCHERS:
   Russell Martin
   Brad Ausmus
   A.J. Ellis
   
    INFIELDERS:
   1B James Loney
   2B Orlando Hudson
   SS Rafael Furcal
   3B Casey Blake
   INF Jim Thome
   INF Juan Castro
   INF Mark Loretta
   INF Ronnie Belliard
   INF Doug Mientkiewicz
   INF Blake DeWitt
   INF Chin-lung Hu
   
    OUTFIELDERS:
   LF Manny Ramirez
   CF Matt Kemp
   RF Andre Ethier
   OF Juan Pierre
   OF Jason Repko

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