If I had told you back on March 31st that the first 2013 series between the Los Angeles Dodgers and Colorado Rockies would pit the NL West’s first place team versus the fourth place team, it would have made sense to assume the free-spending Dodgers would be the top dog while the Rockies, winner of just 64 games last year, would be fighting to stay out of the cellar. Wrong.
As it turns out it is the Rockies who are staring down at the Dodgers.
Colorado is currently tied with Arizona for the division lead at 15-10 while the Dodgers are in fourth place with a 12-12 record. It is the first time the Dodgers have been back at .500 since they were 7-7 on April 16th.
It would be nice if the Dodgers could finally get on track with a series win over an NL West rival; they are currently 4-8 versus the rest of the West this young season. Of course, it might be a stretch to call the Rockies a “rival” in the truest sense of the word.
The Rockies are 28-44 versus the Dodgers the last four years, including winning only 4 of 18 games against the Dodgers in 2009 when both teams made it to the postseason. I guess the chance to still make the World Series when you play .222 against another team in your division shows how the wild card and interleague play have diminished the need for beating a rival head to head.
So how is it the Rockies have started off so well? For one, their offense happens to lead the NL in hits, runs scored, and batting average. The Dodgers rank 9th, 12th, and 5th respectively. And after years of struggling to assemble a solid pitching staff, the Rockies have finally seen their minor league system and their usual assortment of journeymen jell into a somewhat decent rotation.
“Home-grown” starting pitchers Juan Nicasio and Jhoulys Chacin (currently on the DL) are a combined 6-0 on the season. Veteran Jon Garland has given up three or less runs in five of his six starts. The only blemish for Garland came when he surrendered six runs against Atlanta in a game played in 30 degree weather. Garland is from Southern California.
Monday’s pitching match-up is the Dodgers Ted Lilly versus Colorado’s Tyler Chatwood. Lilly is 5-0 in his previous six starts versus the Rockies the last two years. Chatwood will be celebrating a homecoming of sorts. He was born about 60 miles east of Los Angeles and started his career with the Angels.
Living in the fast lane
Crawford is currently batting .307 and hit two home runs in Sunday’s 2-0 win over the Brewers. He was recovering from Tommy John surgery when camp opened and his presence in the opening day line-up was doubtful. When Cuban defector Yasiel Puig finished spring training with a .517 batting average, some thought Puig would be the left fielder if Crawford remained on the DL. Now, Puig’s character has come into question.
Puig, currently in Chattanooga Tennessee playing for the Dodgers Double A affiliate and batting .333, was recently benched by manager Jody Reed for an undisclosed “mental mistake.” And over this past weekend, Puig was arrested on suspicion of speeding and reckless driving in Chattanooga.
The Dodgers signed the Cuban “defector” to $42 million deal last year. Guess he has enough to pay the ticket. Or better yet, he can ask Reese Witherspoon if that “Do you know who I am?” defense worked out for her.