Friday the 13th has rolled around and a Southern California baseball team possesses the best record in the majors. Now, if you’ve found yourself buried in your 1040 form and are getting your first glance at the 2012 standings, you might have been drawn to the AL side of the equation thanks to the Mr. Pujols show broadcasting from Anaheim. Sorry, move on over to the senior circuit.
The Dodgers completed a sweep of the Pirates Thursday night to go to 6-1 and wipe the sub-.500 Angels from the front page. Of course, how much can we make of these winning ways? Well, the opponents might provide some of the answer.
The fast start, which is the Dodgers best since their World Championship year of 1981, has come at the expense of two franchises which are a bigger mess than a teenager’s bedroom- the Padres and Pirates.
Although the Bucs were a chic pick by some to finally turn things around for the first time since the father of Blue Jays pitcher Kyle Drabek was pitching in Three Rivers Stadium, the Pirates are a woeful 27-51 since the 2011 All-Star break. And if you are on the FBI’s most wanted list, the best place to hide might be on the Padres roster. Even Dodgers manager Don Mattingly knows his team is not exactly knocking around the NL’s “big boys.”
“You can put things on paper all you want, but you have to go out and play. I’m happy to win these games. It doesn’t matter who they’re coming against. You have to win X amount of games to win the division,” he says.
Break down a few numbers and it is easy to see why the Dodgers are winning:
- No freebies. Dodgers starting pitchers did not give up a walk in the three game series versus the Pirates. The defense was error free as well.
- Would you like that Kemp-Ethier sandwich toasted? Juan Rivera is 6 for 11 (.545) when he bats in the four hole between Matt Kemp and Andre Ethier. He is just 2-14 (.142) when batting after them.
- Is the ghost of Andruw Jones gone? Juan Uribe was looking to be the worst free agent signing since the Dodgers gave outfielder Andruw Jones $36 million to bat .208 for one dreadful 2008 season. Uribe went 5 for 10 versus the Pirates after starting the season 1 for 14.
- The Closer is not Kevin Bacon’s wife. Javy Guerra saved all three games. He has retired 14 of the 16 batters he has faced this season.
- Anger management. Ethier had gone 4 for 8 with a home run in the first two games against the Pirates. In Ethier’s first at bat in Thursday’s finale, Pirates starting pitcher Jeff Kartens hit him square in the back. When Ethier was later driven home on a single by Uribe, he slid very hard into the plate although everyone in the stadium knew no throw was coming. Dodgers pitcher Chris Capuano exacted revenge by hitting Pirates right fielder Jose Tabata, who entered the game hitting .167 with no home runs, in the top of the fifth. Don Mattingly was a pretty intense player. Is this team picking up his mannerisms?
How much respect will the Dodgers get as a result of this start? Probably not much since the Padres come to Dodger Stadium this weekend. But still, even though the term “bullying” has a negative connotation these days, Dodgers fans can only hope their team continues pushing the little guys around.