By MIKEY HIRANO CULROSS
Rafu Sports Editor
For the 2014 Dodgers, a measure of their success has been how many times they get to crank up the small soap bubble machines they keep in their dugout. After a team home run, someone flips the switch and the team dances with delight.
Last Wednesday, the machines simply couldn’t keep up.
The clubhouse became a cascade of beer and the champagne, with the Dodgers letting go of their emotions after doing the samba all over the San Francisco Giants, 9-1, and clinching the National League West division title.
“This is what you work for every year,” said Dodger infielder Darwin Barney, who was traded to the Dodgers July 28 from the last-place Chicago Cubs. “It’s amazing. To be a part of it … words can’t describe the feeling right now. We’re going to enjoy this and get back to work tomorrow.”
In front of a sellout crowd of 53,387, Clayton Kershaw pitched eight innings for the win, his 21st in a season that could quite possibly end with him taking home both the Cy Young and Most Valuable Player awards.
As good as they are, the Dodgers’ regular season record heading into the playoffs is the league’s second-best at 94-68, behind the Washington Nationals’ mark of 96-66. There are some questions about their pitching – most notably whether Hyun-jin Ryu will be healthy enough to make a postseason start. And who knows what surprises Yasiel Puig has in store?
A day before clinching the NL West crown, the slick-fielding Barney said that it helps to be charmed as well as good, when it comes to the postseason.
“I think you need a little bit of luck in the playoffs, but this team is really good. Luck comes with chemistry and this team has been getting better and better on that side since I’ve been here.
“We throw away the losses a lot quicker. It’s a different mentality. We know that every day is a chance to win a game, and that’s what it’s all about. This game is hard enough, so that definitely makes it easier when the team’s key objective is to win, no matter who steps up on any given day.
“We’re not quite where we want to be yet, and there’s still work to do, but we’re on our way and that’s exciting for a lot of us who have never been here before.”