The Los Angeles Dodgers and host San Diego Padres, two teams with different priorities in the stretch run, square off on Tuesday to open their final head-to-head series of the regular season.
For the Padres, the goal is clear: Reach the postseason as a wild card.
As it stands right now, they would do just that. San Diego (85-68) currently holds the second of three National League wild-card berths and is three games ahead of the Milwaukee Brewers (82-71), who sit just outside the playoff picture behind the Philadelphia Phillies (83-69).
The Padres' magic number is six, and they have an added edge with all nine of their remaining regular-season games at home.
The Dodgers (106-47) clinched the No. 1 seed for the NL playoffs with their 106th win on Sunday.
What are they playing for? Total domination -- and history.
They have matched the single-season franchise record for wins, and a victory on Tuesday would set a new mark.
"We still want to win as many games as we can," Dodgers manager Dave Roberts said. "We'll prepare for the playoffs. One of the best ways to do that is keep winning."
But winning is now a bonus for the Dodgers, while it is a necessity for the Padres.
The Dodgers are 12-4 against the Padres this season. Los Angeles is 4-2 in San Diego and has outscored its Southern California rival 100-41 in the first 16 games between the teams.
"The path to the World Series likely goes through the Dodgers," Padres manager Bob Melvin said before Los Angeles took two of three in San Diego earlier this month. "We have to get more competitive against the Dodgers."
The Padres are 8-4 overall since their most recent series loss to the Dodgers.
"We're playing good baseball," Melvin said. "This is more like we expected. And the timing couldn't be better."
The Dodgers will open the series with Tyler Anderson (15-4, 2.52 ERA) on the mound against the Padres' Blake Snell (8-9, 3.62) in a match of left-handers.
Anderson has been consistent, making quality starts (at least six innings, no more than three earned runs allowed) in 12 of his past 14 outings. In his most recent appearance, he allowed three runs, all unearned, on two hits in six innings against the Arizona Diamondbacks on Sept. 20. He walked two and fanned six while taking a 5-2 loss.
In 14 career appearances (13 starts) against the Padres, Anderson is 6-3 with a 2.31 ERA. He has been phenomenal against them this year, going 2-0 with 1.50 ERA in three starts.
Snell has recorded back-to-back wins, limiting the Diamondbacks to one run in seven innings on Sept. 16 and throwing seven shutout innings against the Cardinals on Wednesday. The left-hander allowed just two hits and two walks while striking out a season-high 13 vs. St. Louis.
In eight career starts against Los Angeles, Snell is 1-1 with a 2.86 ERA. He struggled in his most recent outing against the Dodgers, allowing five runs on seven hits through four-plus innings on Sept. 10.
--Field Level Media