By and large, the Dodgers’ three-game series that begins tonight San Diego has been painted in the media as a must-win affair.

It’d certainly be nice for the team if they won the series, but it’s not a make-or-break event.

Say the Dodgers win only one of the three games. That would leave them seven games out of first place in the division (fewer behind in the wild card) with nine weeks to go.

Last year, the Dodgers nearly blew a six-game lead in the National League West with nine games to go. Four years ago this week, the Dodgers were swept by San Diego to fall into last place in the NL West, 7 1/2 games out of first, and they still made the playoffs.

Obviously, the Dodgers don’t want to wait until the last minute to make a move — comebacks are anything but automatic. But the idea that it’s now-or-never time is just silly.

The matchups:

Tonight: Chad Billingsley vs. Jon Garland
Wednesday: Hiroki Kuroda vs. Clayton Richard
Thursday: Vicente Padilla vs. Mat Latos

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  • The rejiggering of Clayton Kershaw’s pitching schedule following his suspension set up a likely showdown between him and fellow 22-year-old phenom Steven Strasburg of Washington on August 6 at Dodger Stadium.
  • The duffel bag that Jackie Robinson carried on a bat over his shoulder in his famous Dodger farewell photo appears to be up for auction, writes Ernest Reyes of Blue Heaven.
  • I don’t think Matt Kemp has done anything this year that bugged me more than his extra-effort tackle of James Loney on Saturday, and this is why. This isn’t about me being a sourpuss: There was plenty of celebration underway before Kemp almost took Loney out.
  • Mike Piazza was the subject of a long interview at Athletics Nation.
  • Back in Spring Training, Dodger video cameras caught Kenley Jansen chatting it up with DeJon Watson, Logan White, Rodney McCray, Joe Torre and Sandy Koufax.