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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

Answer Key:
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

Record: A+

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.

Offense: A+

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.

Defense: B+

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.

Pitching: A+

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
baseball”

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

Answer Key:

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.

Managing: A

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.

Series Awards

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.