Touch 'Em All: D-backs sweep Dodgers
Amidst big trades, rumors and other trade deadline happenings, the Arizona Diamondbacks swept the Los Angeles Dodgers in a three-game series in LA to start their road trip.
Prior to the start of this series, the D-backs were sitting at .500 (51-51) and were 4.5 games back of the Giants in the NL West.
Now the team is 54-and-51, and is one win shy of being four games over .500, the most they been all season.
Arizona managed to take full advantage of playing and beating their divisional rivals to make up games in a hurry, as that is a luxury they will not have for a while. The Diamondbacks don't play either of the teams ahead of them, San Francisco or Los Angeles, until August 30th.
The Diamondbacks had an all-around great series in which every aspect of their team was rolling.
They had strong pitching performances from the starters and the bullpen, solid defense behind those pitchers and excellent hitting performances to bolster both the defense and the pitching.
The Dodgers may now have Hanley Ramirez and Shane Victorino, but Arizona doesn't seem to care. "I liked the club the way it was," Diamondbacks General Manager Kevin Towers told Arizona Sports 620's Doug and Wolf Tuesday. "We didn't want to tinker with it too much. Sometimes when you bring too many new faces and bodies to a club it can throw off chemistry."
Many baseball analysts judged the Diamondbacks trade deadline maneuvers, or lack there of, poorly. Of all the "winners and losers" stories that I read, Arizona was always in the losing category.
It's too early to tell whom the real winners and losers of the trade deadline were, and I adamantly disagree with anyone who says the Diamondbacks were losers and the Giants and Dodgers were winners of the trade deadline.
People need to understand that while the Giants and Dodgers are teams that like to make a huge splash by trading for "big name" players, the D-backs are the exact opposite; They like to fly under the radar and cruise along without attracting tons of attention.
That's just the way Kevin Towers likes it.
Just take a look at these three "heart of the order" (either 2, 3, 4 hitters or 3, 4, 5 hitters) stats for the top three teams in the NL West and choose which ones are the "big named" lineups and which one is the D-backs.
A) .297 BA, 41 HR, 156 RBI, .369 OBP
B) .298 BA, 50 HR, 172 RBI, .363 OBP
C) .313 BA, 40 HR, 172 RBI, .379 OBP
A) Dodgers - Ethier, Kemp, Ramirez
B) D-backs - Hill, Kubel, Goldschmidt
C) Giants - Cabrera, Posey, Pence
Those stats include the very slow starts for Aaron Hill and Paul Goldschmidt, otherwise the D-backs BA and OBP would be much higher.
The D-backs trade deadline losers? I don't think so. It seems the Dodgers and Giants were just trying to catch their lineups up.
Series Report Card
Arizona has won six straight games against the Dodgers and swept this series in dominating fashion, as the Dodgers lost each game by at least four runs. You can't ask for too much more than that. It was the D-backs first sweep at Dodger Stadium since 2007.
Regardless of what is written in this section to praise the D-backs offense, the fact is that the team's base running is costing them runs. Just take a look at the second inning on Wednesday, one in which the D-backs scored one run on a Miguel Montero RBI single that scored Paul Goldschmidt from second. However, Montero was thrown out trying to take second on the play and if he had been on base he would have scored when Stephen Drew doubled two batters later. Also, why on Earth is Matt Williams so inconsistent with his decisions at third base?!
Overall, the Diamondbacks bats were very effective in this series, as they took advantage of not having to face the Dodgers ace Clayton Kershaw. They scored 19 runs in this series and hit six home runs in a park that is not notorious for the long ball. Chris Johnson shined in his new role with the D-backs, drilling two home runs, including a grand slam, on his own.
Arizona had two errors in this series, but the defense was overall pretty good. The team turned three double plays and the errors that they did have didn't cost them in terms of runs.
How about those Diamondbacks starters? Over the course of this three game series, in which the starters pitched a combined 20 innings; Trevor Cahill, Wade Miley and Patrick Corbin only gave up two runs to the Dodgers. A stat like that just says "success" without even taking a look at the box score.
There was a lot of talk as the trade deadline was closing about the Snakes trying to get an ace for their pitching staff. But why would Arizona want to give up any of its young arms, like Miley and Corbin, who have shown flashes of brilliance this season? The issue most people are taking with the D-backs is their lack of a true ace, but are they really lacking one?
The "aces" of the NL West and the "best pitcher in
A) 8-6, 2.95 ERA, 1.06 WHIP, 3.67 K/BB ratio, 3.0 WAR
B) 12-6, 2.98 ERA, 1.08 WHIP, 3.96 K/BB ratio, 3.0 WAR
C) 10-3, 2.80 ERA, 0.97 WHIP, 4.81 K/BB ratio, 2.3 WAR
D) 11-7, 2.63 ERA, 0.98 WHIP, 3.80 K/BB ratio, 5.1 WAR
WAR= Wins Above Replacement
A) Clayton Kershaw, LAD
B) Wade Miley, AZ
C) Matt Cain, SF
D) Justin Verlander, DET (Widely considered the best pitcher in baseball)
Wade Miley may not have the name or reputation that many aces have around the league, but this year, his numbers are right there with all of them. The man went to the All- Star game for a reason.
Kirk Gibson has been notorious this year for shaking up his lineup, especially at the top of the order. It can be argued that continually changing the top of the order can really mess with an opposing manager's game plan, and there may be no better manager in baseball at this mental chess game than Gibson.
Play of the Series:
Chris Johnson's grand slam in the fifth inning on Tuesday with two outs was simply outstanding. If there is ever a way to quickly endear yourself to your new fans, it would be to hit a grand slam against the archrivals in your second game. Chris Johnson did just that.
Player of the Series:
Paul Goldschmidt. The Diamondbacks first baseman went 8- for-12 in the series with two home runs and five RBI.
The "Dikembe Mutombo Finger Wag" award:
For the first time this season, the Finger Wag award will be vacated following this series, as no one is deserving of a finger wag.
Best Moment of the Series:
Watching the Dodgers fans boo their new acquisition Shane Victorino as he struggled against D-backs pitchers on Wednesday.
Kirk Gibson Quote of the Series:
"When things are tough you want to be able to reflect back to a good point, that's how you fix it; you remember these things." - Kirk Gibson talking about sweeping the series from the Dodgers.
The Road Ahead
The Diamondbacks continue their road trip as they head to Philadelphia to take on the Phillies. Although the Phils recently traded away two of their big pieces, the D-backs will still have to face Roy Halladay and Cliff Lee in this series, which is rarely an easy task.
- Derrick Hall, D-backs President & CEO - Thursday May 23Hall talks to Doug & Wolf about injured players and the upcoming series
- Tim Kurkjian, ESPN MLB Insider - Thursday May 23Timmy gives us insider insight into this week's top MLB headlines.
- Kevin Towers, D-backs' General Manager - Wednesday May 22Are the D-backs ready for the upcoming MLB June draft? What's the latest on Adam Eaton?
- Kirk Gibson, D-backs' Manager - Tuesday May 21Gibby on Pat Corbin, Adam Eaton's return, & Paul Goldschmidt's success.
- Eric Chavez - Friday May 17D-Backs 3rd baseman Eric Chavez joined Burns & Gambo to discuss his recent hot streak.