The Diamondbacks made a statement in Los Angeles this week and the timing couldn’t have been any better. Not only did they sweep the [tied for] first place Dodgers on the road but they straight up dominated them. The team never trailed at any point in the series and outscored the Dodgers 19-4 over the three game set including a two hit shutout on Wednesday. The Dbacks have now beaten the Dodgers six consecutive times- the longest streak since they took eight straight in 2005. It was also the first time since August 3-5th 2007 that the Dbacks completed a sweep at Dodger Stadium.
Record Notes: The Diamondbacks improved to 54-51 with the sweep. Their road record improves to 24-27 and they are three games over .500 for the first time since April 17th when they were 7-4. With the Giants losing to the Mets on Wednesday the Dbacks gained two more games on the N.L. West leaders and now trail the Giants by 2 ½ games making it very much so a three team race.
Transactions: With the trade deadline now passed the Dbacks will have to make a run with the guys they have in their clubhouse now as Kevin Towers wasn’t able to make the blockbuster trade he had in the works up until the last few minutes before the deadline. He made one trade on July 31st that has many a head scratching as he shipped lefty reliever Craig Breslow to the Boston Red Sox in exchange for right handed reliever Matt Albers and 36 year old journey man Scott Podsednik. Albers is actually enjoying the best year of his career with a 2.29 ERA in 40 appearances but sports a career ERA near five at 4.78 in 277 games. Podsednik has barely played in 2012 collecting just 62 at bats.
The move makes little sense because it seems as though Podsednik will report to AAA Reno to add ‘outfield depth’ if needed for the club- even though they have A.J. Pollock and Adam Eaton- and Albers replaced RHP Brad Bergeson who was recently acquired as well. Breslow was one of the more reliable relievers in the Dbacks bullpen and he was a lefty. In a league that puts so much emphasis on matchups and the value of a left hander coming out of the pen it is a surprise to see Towers deal Breslow when these are the guys he got in return. Furthermore, that leaves us with one left handed reliever in roly poly Mike Zagurski who has been anything but consistent and frankly the only reason I can see he still has a job is because he’s left handed.
GOOD: Paul Goldschmidt was unbelievable in this series and finished 8 for 12 with two homeruns and five RBI’s. Both homeruns came in the top half of the first inning on Monday and Tuesday. Monday’s was a three run bomb off of Aaron Harang and Tuesday’s was a two run shot of Chris Capuano. Both set the tone of the game right out of the gate and gave the starting pitchers room to be more aggressive before they even took the hill. On Wednesday he made an unimpressive bunt pop out to the catcher by Justin Upton turn into a crucial heads up play. Take a look at the play. Miguel Montero was next and he lined a ground ball up the middle to score Goldschmidt making it 1-0, easily making Goldschmidt’s heads up play the play of the game.
Goldschmidt is now 12 for his last 23 with five multi-hit games in his last six contests.
*Chris Johnson made his debut as a Diamondback on Monday night and instantly had opportunities to make an impact with his new club. In the third inning with one out Johnson came to the plate with the bases loaded only to ground into an inning ending double play. Oddly enough- and lucky enough for Johnson- he came to the plate with the bases loaded again in the fifth inning and didn’t miss this time driving a 2-1 pitch into the left field seats for a grand slam and making it a 7-0 game. Talk about getting a monkey off your back. From that point on the 27 year old was locked in finishing 6 for 11 with a double, two homeruns and seven RBI’s. He also didn’t strikeout once in the series.
*Miguel Montero was wreaking havoc on Dodgers pitchers as well finishing 4 for 9 with two homeruns and six RBI’s. He also walked four times and didn’t strikeout once. He is 14 for his last 30 with four homeruns, twelve RBI’s and nine walks. His on base percentage is an impressive .394- good for third among all major league catchers.
*Goldie, Johnson & Miggy combined to go 18 for 32 with six homeruns and eighteen RBI’s in the three game series against the Dodgers. Now that’s impressive.
*Starting Pitching. Just when the team needed it the most the starting pitching stepped up in a big way. In their 20 innings of work they surrendered just two earned runs and one first inning homerun all series.
* Trevor Cahill set the tone working out of a first inning jam where he induced an inning ending double play after walking the leadoff batter and allowing a single. It was the first time in seven starts he didn’t allow a first inning run. He kept the ball down all night and had great movement on all his pitches creating ten groundouts to two flyouts including a pair of double plays.
*Wade Miley followed that up with an even better performance going eight strong innings while giving up just three hits and a first inning homerun. At one point the rookie retired 12 straight hitters and 18 of 19 to finish his start. Miley improved to 12-6 with an ERA of 2.98.
The finale saw rookie left hander Patrick Corbin return to the club and he surrendered just two hits over six shutout innings. Corbin worked out of a jam in the first and second innings as the Dodgers had runners on first and second in each frame only to leave them stranded.
BAD: Jason Kubel has cooled off considerably as of late and finished 2 for 12 without an RBI in the series. He is now 2 for his last 20 with eight strikeouts and hasn’t recorded an RBI in seven games. Still, he finished July with a club record [for the month] 11 homeruns and recorded 22 RBI’s- the second straight month with 20+ RBI’s.
*Justin Upton was less than impressive again in this series finishing 2 for 13. He didn’t walk once in the series and hasn’t walked in five straight games. In the last eight games the right fielder is just 5 for 27 (.185) with three RBI’s. He hasn’t had an extra base hit during that span as well. It’s scary to think that the team is hitting this well without the help of Upton or Chris Young but there hasn’t been much to show us that anything will change soon. Teams are still pitching Upton way outside and inducing hard ground balls to short as a result with Upton not taking the pitch the opposite way.
UGLY: Stephen Drew is getting his at bats right now on a consistent basis and with Willie Bloomquist nursing a sore back he will likely be out there all weekend as well. Unfortunately the shortstop is struggling mightily and was just 1 for 9 in the series and is now just 3 for his last 25 (.120) dropping his season average to .193. To be fair, when you watch the games you see Drew hit line drive after line drive that just isn’t finding grass- something that he isn’t going to change in his swing- and hopefully something that will just start falling for him.
NOTES: The best part about this sweep- besides the fact that it is L.A.- is that this Dodgers club was rolling coming off a three game sweep of the Giants and everyone on their club is playing and healthy. When the Dbacks took three of four at Chase Field just before the All Star break the argument was we did it without Matt Kemp or Andre Ethier but this series included Kemp, Ethier, Hanley Ramirez and Shane Victorino. And no, we didn’t face Kershaw this series but last time we faced him the offense ruffed him up for five runs in 5 1/3 innings. Basically what I’m saying is we own the Dodgers. Enjoy it now and hope they keep it rolling.
*With the first inning homerun against Miley on Tuesday it plated the 36th run allowed by the Diamondbacks in the first inning- the most runs they’ve allowed in any inning.
*The Diamondbacks started the second half playing 20 games in 20 days and finished 12-8. They have an off day today to travel to Philadelphia before they will play a game on ten straight days making it 30 games in 31 days to open the second half of the season.
*Ian Kennedy will take the hill on Friday night in Philadelphia to try to keep pace with the other Diamondback starters. The team will face Roy Halladay on Saturday and Cliff Lee on Sunday before traveling to Pittsburgh for a four game set.
Now bring on the Phillies!!
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Topics: A.J. Pollock, Aaron Harang, Adam Eaton, Andre Ethier, Arizona Diamondbacks, Brad Bergeson, Chris Capuano, Chris Johnson, Chris Young, Cliff Lee, Craig Breslow, D-backs, Dbacks, Ian Kennedy, Jason Kubel, Justin Upton, Kevin Towers, Matt Albers, Matt Kemp, Miguel Montero, Mike Zagurski, National League West, Patrick Corbin, Paul Goldschmidt, Philadelphia Phillies, Roy Halladay, San Francisco Giants, Scott Podsednik, Shane Victorino, Trevor Cahill, Wade Miley, Willie Bloomquist