Following the Dodgers and Exploring The Team’s Past
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Man, this season continues to look like it’s going to be crazy one. It is the 40th anniversary of the 1967 AL Pennant Race so I guess it’s kind of fitting. Anyway, with three wins in their four game series with the Diamondbacks, the Dodgers sit in a virtual tie with the Padres. In the loss column, they’re a game out but a game ahead of the Diamondbacks. And things get more interesting tonight with a three game series against the Padres kicking off.
What about Luis Gonzalez? While he’s hardly an All Star, he leads the team with ten homeruns and a .301 batting average. And in the past ten games, he’s had two three hit games a pair of two hit games. And he’s doing it while playing every day, which isn’t bad for a guy coming up on 40. The Diamondbacks have to be kicking themselves because it looks like Gonzalez had at least one more season left in the tank.
And then there’s Juan Pierre. Even his .321 slugging percentage is low by his standards and his .625 OPS is the lowest of any regular player in baseball. There’s a couple of guys with a lower OPS, but nobody with more then 234 at bats. Then again, that’s Ronny Paulino and I guess for now he is the starting catcher in Pittsburgh. So the Dodgers definitely got hosed on that signing.
It’ll be Hong-Chih Kuo going up against a tough Chris Young tonight. Tomorrow’s matchup of Brad Penny versus Jake Peavy should be a good one as well.
The Dodgers continued their struggles against their cross town rivals in Anaheim with another series loss. In all, the Dodgers lost five of six to the Angels and I for one am glad to know we won’t have to face that team again (unless it’s in the World Series).
Things started off well enough with a great start by Derek Lowe. Prior to Friday, his season high was six strikeouts and against the Angels he rang up eleven K’s. Lowe has won three of his last four and since a rough start at the end of April, Lowe’s ERA has dropped from 4.62 to 3.08. He’s also been the workhorse on the staff and he leads the team with 102 1/3 innings.
The problem of course has been the offense. Russ Martin leads all starters but he only has a .288 batting average. And only the Nationals have a worse slugging percentage in the National League. A .379 team slugging isn’t going to cut it for too long because you never how long the pitching is going to be able to keep doing what they’ve done so far. They’re third in the majors and second in the National League with a 3.67 ERA.
A big reason for that solid ERA is Brad Penny who’s really come into his own. Relegated to basically a third starter, he’s really thrived and he leads the team with eight wins (only on loss) and he has a 2.18 ERA. He’s given up only two homeruns and he’s been pretty much the model of consistency. Even if you take into account the eight run beating he took on May 18th to the Angels, he’s given up more then three runs in a start just twice and he’s given up just three or more just four times and that’s in fourteen starts. We’re talking Cy Young potential here.
The West contenders have all had a tough stretch and despite winning just five of ten, the Dodgers haven’t lost any ground. The Dodgers sit just two losses back of the first place Padres and they’re tied with the Diamondbacks. As important, the Dodgers play two teams they should be able to handle. This week it’ll be the Blue Jays in Toronto and then it’s off to St. Petersburg to take the always poor Devil Rays. Brad Penny gets the start in the opener and he’ll go up against Dustin McGowan tomorrow.
Man, that series with the Pirates did the trick. The only problem is, while the Dodgers have won seven of their last ten, the Padres have matched them and the Diamondback have topped it with nine wins out of their last ten. Still, the Dodgers broke up a three way tie for first to take a half game lead with their win last night. Derek Lowe took a no hitter into the seventh inning before the wheels fell of the wagon. Four runs later and the Dodgers were barely hanging on but one of my favorite players, Jon Broxton, held on to pick up his first save of the season.
And now it’s the Padres that the Dodgers stop by to visit. This weeks three game series is pretty big and whoever comes out on top will probably have at least a share of first place. Jason Schmidt makes his return tonight and he’ll face Chris Young. While you never want throw a game away, Thursday’s game might be pretty close with Peavy going up against Kuo. So this first game could mean the difference between sereis win and a series loss.
And how about Russ Martin, who could be an early MVP candidate as the best hitter on one of the best team’s in baseball. An .894 OPS from your catcher is pretty impressive but what the Dodgers have to make sure is, that they don’t tire him out. So far though, he’s been catching about every game, which is fine now, but it might not be as good come August.
Jeff Kent hasn’t hit a homerun since May 25th yet he still leads the team with eight. Since that game though, he’s seen his batting average drop from .295 to .259 and he’s only racked up two hits in his last nine games. If the Dodgers are going to have a chance aganst the Padres, they need Kent to step up.
In the preseason, I said Randy Wolf may be the team’s most important pitcher because how he does may parallel how the Dodgers are doing. Well, he’s 7-3 and he has 74 strikeouts in 71 innings. He’s won four in a row and he hasn’t been touched up hard since his last start on May 30 A .176 batting average against left handed hitters will do that and this is the kind of guy who, if he’s throwing well, really frustrates a manager because it makes him think twice about putting even his best left handed bats into the lineup.
Anyway, we’re 57 games in and if you had asked me I’d take 34-23 and a razor thin lead for first, I’d be all over it. With things being so tight, the Dodgers can’t let up though.
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