The Dodgers have seemed horrified, if not offended, by the thought.
Aren’t they at all worried — now that they’ve clinched the division, posted the best record in baseball, and done it with a few weeks left in the regular season — about the complacency that has crept in between now and the start of the playoffs?
No, they categorically claimed. Not at all.
“That question doesn’t even register with me,” first baseman Freddie Freeman said last week amid his team’s celebration in the clubhouse.
“I mean, if you don’t want to win the game, you shouldn’t play,” pitcher Andrew Heaney said Sunday.
“If you start to see our guys getting lazy, then come talk to me,” manager Dave Roberts added, his tone sharpening as he sat in the governor’s office at Oracle Park. “Our kids are smart enough to know, it matters.”
Indeed, as promised, the Dodgers’ intensity did not diminish during their first series since clinching the National League West.
Instead, in the final stop of a three-city, 10-day road trip, the club completed a record three-game sweep of the San Francisco Giants with a 4-3 victory in 10 innings Sunday night.
The win was the Dodgers’ 15th over the Giants this season, the most they have beaten their opponents in a single campaign since the two franchises relocated to California in 1958.
And they had to spend a rainy night in the Bay Area, a night that ended with a nearly hour-long saga in a dramatic 10th inning.
After playing in wet conditions and a 20-minute rain delay early on, then squandering an eighth-inning lead that left the score 2-2 going into the 10th, the Dodgers put up two runs in the extra frame.
Austin Barnes set the tone with a sacrifice bunt. Mookie Betts broke the tie with a line drive double. The Dodgers then strung together three two-out walks (the first was intentional) to force home an insurance run.
They needed it.
In the bottom half of the 10th, reliever Andre Jackson gave up a run and loaded the bases with two outs before left-hander Justin Bruihl replaced him and pushed LaMonte Wade Jr. to finish for his first career save.
“Beer shower!” Dodgers players shouted as they returned to the clubhouse, eager to mark Bruihl’s momentous moment with a celebration.
“There was beer, ketchup, milk, a lot of stuff on me,” Bruihl said with a smile.
“I had a nice hot shower afterwards.”
Every little moment — playing in the rain, scoring twice in the 10th, celebrating Bruihl’s feat — was proof to Roberts that his players hadn’t lost their intensity level in recent days, that they hadn’t lost their lead despite their place in the the rating.
“There was no lack of focus or play offs,” Roberts said. “It was the same intensity I saw last year when we were in a pennant race with these guys. So credit to our players.”
Before the game, the coach said he was having trouble getting his biggest stars — namely Freeman, who missed just one game — to take more days off as the season winds down.
“I’m not resigned,” Roberts joked. “But I also know battles I’m about to lose.”
The Dodgers (101-44) are still cautious in other ways.
Heaney was pulled from his start Sunday after just four innings and 65 pitches, with a rain-delayed dropoff in the fourth inning impacting Roberts’ decision.
The team also managed its bullpen carefully as usual, turning to less-experienced arms in Jackson and Bruich in the 10th in order to prevent higher-leverage options like Tommy Kahnle and Chris Martin from playing in back-to-back games.
It nearly allowed the Giants (69-77) — who were twice robbed of potential runs earlier in the night on doubles that forced a runner to ground out at third — to steal Sunday’s game late.
Jackson gave up a deep throw to Joc Pederson that could have proved insufficient had it not been for a strong wind. Brouill fed a long foul ball to Wade that drifted just wide of the right field pole.
In the end, though, the Dodgers prevailed once again.
“If you ask anybody in here, they probably wouldn’t be able to tell you how many times we’ve beaten the Giants,” Heaney said. “We just go out there and play.”
This story originally appeared in the Los Angeles Times.