Thoughts: Dodgers favorite in NL West?
July, 3, 2013
By David Schoenfield | ESPN.com
Quick thoughts on Tuesday's major league baseball action ...
- With the rest of the NL West stumbling along, the Dodgers are suddenly just 2.5 games behind the Diamondbacks after Clayton Kershaw pitched a four-hit shutout over the Rockies. On June 2, the Dodgers were 8.5 games out of first. Yasiel Puig debuted the next day -- although he did not immediately ignite the club. On June 22, the Dodgers were still 9.5 games out, but they've picked up seven games in the standings in their past nine games. Yes, winning nine of 10 has helped, but so has the putrid play of every other team in the division. This is starting to resemble the 2008 NL West, when the Dodgers won the division with 84 wins. (To be fair, this year's NL West is more about mediocrity from top to bottom; the 2008 NL West was horrible, as the five teams won 84, 82, 74, 72 and 63 games.)
- Oh, yeah, Puig homered to deep right-center on a 1-2 pitch and made a great catch.
- Steve Mancuso of Redleg Nation with an account of Homer Bailey's no-hitter: "It's been a great twelve months for David Dewitt Bailey, Jr. He traveled to Africa where he killed a lion with 'just a little stick and string,' threw the two no-hitters and rose to the occasion in October with possibly his best performance in the most important game of his life. You've got to wonder what the next calendar year will bring for Homer Bailey. Whatever comes along, Homer's homers and I will be right there cheering and cheering for him."
- In case you didn't see, here's the head's-up play by Joey Votto in the seventh inning that helped preserve the no-hitter.
- Justin Grimm may be about to lose his spot in the Texas rotation after the Mariners pounded him in a 9-2 victory. He has a 9.31 ERA over his past six starts. Kendrys Morales hit two home runs for Seattle, but the amazing Raul Ibanez hit his 20th -- the most by the All-Star break of any player in his age 40+ season (Ibanez is 41). Since May 10, Ibanez is hitting .271/.319/.624 with 18 home runs in 43 games.
- Matt Carpenter and Yadier Molina are batting 1-2 for the Cardinals. I wonder if that's the slowest 1-2 combo ever? Still, I love Mike Matheny thinking outside the box and simply understanding it's more important to have guys who can get on base hitting at the top of the order than guys who can run fast.
- Big three-run, two-out homer by Derek Norris in the eighth inning off Cubs reliever James Russell to give the A's an 8-7 victory. He also threw out Luis Valbuena stealing in the ninth (Starlin Castro struck out on a hit-and-run play). Sharing time with John Jaso, Norris is hitting just .203, and while he's never going to hit for much of an average, his power has been a disappointment, with four homers in 172 at-bats. He could provide a nice lift to the bottom of the order with a little more production.
- Watched the first couple innings of David Price's return before flipping to the final few innings of Bailey's gem, but he looked sharp, commanding his fastball, mixing his pitches -- including some first-pitch changeups that are just unfair. Granted, it was the Astros, but in seven innings he threw just 70 pitches and still struck out 10 batters in an 8-0 victory. That looks like the Price who won the Cy Young Award last year. "That's probably the best I've felt on a baseball field maybe in my entire life, honestly," Price said. "I felt like that's the most control I've had of a baseball game in a very long time. I think that was better than I threw the ball really at any point last year." Watch out, AL. I feel a second-half surge coming from the Rays.