By Jason Owens
The Los Angeles Dodgers clinched the NL West on Tuesday with 21 games left to play.
Mookie Betts made sure that they did so in style. The five-time Dodgers Gold Glove winner robbed a would-be hit with a catch-of-the-year candidate in the Dodgers’ 4-0 win over the Arizona Diamondbacks.
With no outs in the seventh inning, outfielder Jake McCarthy skied a Clayton Kershaw pitch down the right-field line that looked destined for extra bases. Betts had other ideas. He sprinted from right-center field, slid feet-first on the warning track, then plucked the ball from the air just inches from the ground.
When he got up from the slide he stood face-first and shared the moment with the Dodgers bullpen. He then tossed the ball back to the infield, flashed a smile and signaled to an appreciative Kershaw on the mound.
Betts wasn’t the only Dodgers star to shine on Tuesday. Freddie Freeman launched his 20th home run of the season and maintained his lead over Paul Goldschmidt for the NL batting title. Kershaw pitched seven shutout innings for his eighth win of the season after multiple stints on the injured list.
With the win, the Dodgers improved to 98-43, 21 games and out of striking distance of the second-place San Diego Padres. It’s not like the Padres — or anyone else in the NL — were going to catch them anyway. Now they’ll play out the rest of the season knowing they’re NL West champs for the ninth time in 10 seasons.