The Los Angeles Dodgers need to be careful over the next couple of weeks, because the schedule favors their division rivals.
If the San Francisco Giants are going to make a move in the NL West, it may come in the next month. Over the next 30 days, only nine of their 27 games are against teams currently over .500.
Los Angeles Dodgers
In that same span, the Dodgers play 22 games against teams with winning records. The Dodgers managed a road win against the Pittsburgh Pirates Monday, while the Giants defeated Cliff Lee and the Philadelphia Phillies.
Winning teams had been flummoxing Dodgers first baseman Adrian Gonzalez this season. But he’s now had two notable days in a row against contending teams, with the go-ahead RBI in Sunday’s win over the St. Louis Cardinals and a 3-for-3 showing with a pair of runs scored against the Pirates.
Gonzalez entered Monday hitting a meager .222 with three home runs and 14 RBIs in 135 at-bats against teams with winning records this season. It would seem to be a priority for the Dodgers to get his bat going.
Perhaps Sunday’s hit will go down as the at-bat that turns Gonzalez’s season for the better. He singled in the winning run on a 98 mph fastball from Cardinals closer Trevor Rosenthal with two outs in the ninth inning.
Gonzalez entered that at-bat with only one other hit (and 26 outs made) against pitches of 98 mph or faster dating back to August 15, 2010, and that hit came a little less than a month ago against Rosenthal’s Cardinals teammate, Carlos Martinez.
Monday the pitches came in a little slower and Gonzalez delivered three hits and two walks against them, including another that came with two outs and runners in scoring position (he'd been 9-for-48 in such situations entering that last at-bat on Sunday).
There’s something about seeing that Pirates uniform on the other side that Gonzalez likes. He’s 20-for-50 against them over the past three seasons and his .341 career batting average against Pittsburgh is his best versus any National League team.
What’s the biggest key for Gonzalez the rest of the way? Something he didn’t have to deal with Monday: hitting against left-handed pitching.
Gonzalez’s numbers against right-handers this season aren’t that different from when he was in his prime -- a .286 batting average and .508 slugging percentage with 13 home runs.
But against lefties, he’s hitting .178 (18-for-101) with a .478 OPS. That’s a far cry from two seasons ago when he hit .322 and slugged .491 against left-handed pitching.