When people find out I’m a baseball fan, they often start asking questions. Things like, "What do you think of this player? How do you feel about that team?" Most days, I have trouble answering. Not because I don’t want to talk to them - which is sometimes true - but because I don’t know. If I say anything it’s usually something along the lines of how I’m a Diamondbacks fan, they play 162 games a year, I watch no less than 100 of those games, and I don’t have time for anything else.
And that’s all still true.
On Opening Day, I forked over 20 of my hard-earned dollars to receive the radio feeds of every game through their At Bat app. I gotta tell you guys, I really recommend this - it beats listening to the same 50 songs over and over again on Pandora by a mile. My data entry job is just as much fun as it sounds and having something good in my headphones keeps me doing things like weighing the odds of discovery if I take a nap under my desk. I’ve heard more baseball from non-Diamondback teams than anytime before in the five years since I fell in love with this game.
I’ve started do one other thing at work: every morning I record onto the pink and purple butterfly calendar my company provided me: the score of the game before, our starting pitcher, our record, and our division standing.
The point of this rambling is that I’m taking more of an interest in other teams (warning: small sample size) and paying close attention to division records. Snakebytes provides a look at D-backs headlines and big stories around the league but I thought it would be helpful to pay some attention to the NL West. I mean hey, these are the guys we’ve got to beat, right?
Don’t expect heavy statistical analysis. I don’t really do that. I’ve just collected some stuff you should know.
- Record: 3-1
- Recent series: LAD, STL
- Upcoming series: COL, CHC
Giants gonna giant. To the surprise of exactly no one, the Giants have great pitching to pick them up when their offense sputters. They’ve scored nine runs but have allowed only seven. The Giants shut out their opponents twice this week, blanking the Dodgers and the Cardinals. Yeah, the same Cardinals that took us to 16 innings in a high-scoring shootout got shut out by Barry Zito. That’s got to be awkward if you’re a Cardinal. Baseball is weird, man. In case you need convincing that the Giants are a weird weird team here’s something: Tim Lincecum walked a career-high seven batters but gave up only two hits and is sitting on a 0.00 ERA as the two runs he allowed to the Dodgers were both unearned. Oh, and Barry Zito’s batting 1.000 so there’s a fun fact to discuss around the liquid receptacle of your choice.
- Record: 3-1
- Previous series: MIL, SD
- Upcoming series: SF, SD
The Rockies scored about a million runs this week, which wouldn’t be too shocking except they opened at the Brewers and not at home. The Rockies offense lit up for 24 runs - that’s nearly three times as many as the Giants managed over the span for those of you playing along at home. Their pitching has been perfectly respectable and the team ERA is 3.19, which ain’t bad when Jorge De La Rosa gives up four runs in just over four innings. Relief pitchers Edgmer Escalona and Juan Nicasio got into a fight in front of fans during warm-up, which isn’t something that bodes well for the upcoming year. On the offensive side, Reid Brignac, Jordan Pacheco, and Wilin Rosario are each hitting .500. If you’re like me, you have no idea who those people are but good for them (warning: small sample size).
Troy Tulowitzki has two home runs and Dexter Fowler leads the team with three. Todd Helton, on the other hand, has been about as useful as wet mop with only two hits in three games (or one less than Cliff Pennington collected in the D-backs marathon game against St. Louis). The Rockies are off to a good start so it’s a waiting game to see how long it takes before they collapse like Grecian economy or if they’re going to get ideas about being an upstart - that is if they stop fighting each other and start fighting the rest of the division.
- Record: 2-2
- Previous series: SF, PIT
- Upcoming series: SD, ARI
Fact: I can never remember if it’s spelled Los or Las Angeles. That has nothing to do with how their team played but just know I had to check and was ashamed. So the Los Angeles Dodgers have been playing more like the Giants this week, scoring just enough to support their great pitching, getting shut out once but blanking their opponent twice and - you know what, never mind. The only thing anyone wants to talk about Clayton Kershaw and his utter dominance over those same Giants on Opening Day. He owned the Giants so hard I’m pretty Kershaw stood outside their locker room after the game and stole all their lunch money.
He threw a four-hit complete-game shutout and if that wasn’t enough, he had the nerve to hit a go-ahead home run. I would pay any amount of money for Kershaw’s first career home run to come off Giants ace Matt Cain but that honor went to reliever George Kontos. I listened to this game and was so shocked I pushed my chair back from my desk and may have said "That did not just happen." If anyone asks, the world of data entry for a Fortune 500 company is really surprising, okay? Oh, Zack Greinke had a terrific start but he didn’t he hit a home run so whatever.
- Record: 1-3
- Previous series: NYM, COL
- Upcoming Series: LAD, COL
At last a lack of surprise: the Padres have a losing record. It’s nice to have something to rely on in what was a wild week of opening baseball. Actually wait. here’s a surprise: did you know Jason Marquis pitches for the Padres. Yeah, that guy. He’s still around. Huh. Marquis went six innings against the Rockies, allowing five runs of which only two were earned. The rest of the Padres pitching was nothing to write home about. Except for Eric Stults. Stults was some kind of wonderful, pitching five innings of shutout ball in the Padres only win over the Mets. Padres offense was average enough that I have little to say about it except for another note of surprise that Carlos Quentin - remember him? - is a Padre. He has three RBI. That’s nice.
Hey, did you hear about that guy who did that thing?
Clayton Kershaw is the first pitcher to throw a shutout and hit a home run since Bob Lemon did it for Cleveland in 1953. He’s also the first pitcher to shut out a defending World Series since 1988 when Yankee’s Rick Rhoden embarrassed the champion Twins.