The Arizona Diamondbacks continue to chase the Los Angeles Dodgers for NL Western Division supremacy.
LOS ANGELES – Before the current series with the Los Angeles Dodgers commenced, manager Torey Lovullo of the Arizona Diamondbacks told Venom Strikes that his team is not looking beyond the immediate hour.
That would include facing Dodgers’ ace Clayton Kershaw in the series opener, and then concentrate on subsequent tasks at hand. While Lovullo delivered the expected line in which good teams play in the moment, it may be best to look ahead. That’s because the Dodgers, with a 3.5 game lead in the National League West Division over the Diamondbacks before Wednesday’s game, threaten to set a storied mark.
Prior to the second game of the Arizona series, the Dodgers had a record of 56-29 and that is just behind the major league leading Houston Astros (57-29). The Diamondbacks entered play Wednesday with a record of 52-32, the third best record in baseball.
Before Wednesday night’s against Arizona, the Dodgers (56-29) are off to their best start after 85 games since an identical record in 1974. Plus, the Dodgers have outscored opponents by a plus 154, and that is the best in the majors. The run differential is among the best in the history of the game at the All-Star break. This is held by the 1944 St. Louis Cardinals which reached 157, and that goes back to 1933.
All of which should put some trepidation in opponents. Before Wednesday’s game in Dodger Stadium, L. A. manager Dave Roberts was quick to tell Venom Strikes why his team is playing at a high level.
"“We have players who play the game well,” he said. “Pitchers have been very consistent, the defense has been very consistent and the bats came live in recent weeks. Good players are playing a good brand of baseball.”"
At the All-Star game next Tuesday night in Miami, the Dodgers, as well as the Diamondbacks, will have four representatives. Yet, Kershaw, though he may stand on with National League teammates in pregame introductions, will not be eligible to pitch. That’s because he is slated to go at home Sunday afternoon against the Kansas City Royals.
Before Wednesday’s game, Roberts told Venom Strikes that Kershaw made that decision.
"“(Kershaw) will pitch Sunday and not be eligible for the All-Star game,” he said. “I spoke with Clayton and said he his priority is with the Dodgers. Does that leave an opening for (Alex Wood)? Certainly, Alex is very deserving and this would be a real opportunity for him to join that team.”"
If a pitcher starts a game prior to the All-Star game, he is not ineligible to start in the mid-summer classic.
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A day off
After coming off the DL Tuesday night and going 1-for-4 against Clayton Kershaw, centerfielder A. J. Pollock was given the next day off. Because he was out for six weeks with a groin strain, the Diamondbacks are taking every precaution.
Before Wednesday night’s game, Lovullo told Venom Strikes that there is a proscribed plan in place.
"“(Pollock given Wednesday off) is part of the process,” he said. “Right now, A. J. is responding to the environment and we’ll see how he feels. (Pollock) will play Thursday night (against lefty Rich Hill) and then we’ll take an evaluation.”"