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For Dodgers, it's now or never

September 13, 2012|By Steve Dilbeck
  • Dodgers third baseman Hanley Ramirez can't handle the throw as Cardinals left fielder Matt Holliday arrives safely as he advances from first base on a hit by teammate Allen Craig during a game earlier this season in St. Louis.
Dodgers third baseman Hanley Ramirez can't handle the throw as Cardinals… (Chris Lee / Associated Press )

You know, just like Elvis sang, although I seem to recall something about a willow crying an ocean, which managed to rhyme with devotion.

For those devoted to the Dodgers, these next four days will likely determine if they can truly focus on a postseason, or are sent off to cry their little ocean.

The St. Louis Cardinals arrive at Dodger Stadium on Thursday for a four-game set, that unexpectedly – unless, perhaps, it was in the mind of Commissioner Bud Selig – looms as the key to the Dodgers’ season.

The Dodgers trail the Cards by one game for that second and final wild-card berth. They need to take at least three of the four, which would leave them one game up, though a difficult sweep would really be the answer.

Because after the Cardinals leave town, the Dodgers will have only 15 games to play – nine coming against playoff-bound teams (Nationals, Reds, Giants), three against the resurgent Padres and three vs. the Rockies – while the Cards take on the likes of the crummy Astros and Cubs over their next nine games.

Now or never, Boys in Blue.

Margin for error has grown even more precarious with the late-charging Phillies and Brewers, now only two games back of the Dodgers in the wild-card race. And the Pirates remain 1½ games behind the Dodgers.

There is additional motivation for the Dodgers to win this weekend’s series. Should the two teams end up tying for the final wild-card berth, there would have to be a one-game playoff. And the team with the best head-to-head record would host the game. The Dodgers currently lead the season series 4-3 against the Cardinals.

That scenario would create playoff scheduling headaches for Major League Baseball, but could get even worse should there be a three-way tie, as examined by ESPN’s Jayson Stark here and here.

The Dodgers have already won their season series against the Phillies (5-2) and Pirates (6-1), but lost it to the Brewers (1-6).

If the Dodgers lose three to the Cardinals – or even split -- they lose control of their destiny. And with five teams jammed within three games of each other and a little over two weeks left, not exactly a desirable position.

The Dodgers need to figure out some offense and make a stand right now, or it’s time to make like a willow.

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How the Dodgers lost the NL West

Dodgers go weakly once again in 3-2 loss to Diamondbacks

Struggling Dodgers offense will return almost intact in 2013

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