Welcome to what should probably be described as "Hell Week" for Arizona. We start with three games against the team with the best record in the National League, the Dodgers, end it with three against the second-best team and reigning World Series champions in Philadelphia. Oh, and the original off-day on Monday has now become a make-up game in Atlanta, facing one of the best pitching prospects, in the shape of Tommy Hanson. If we can manage anything other than a losing record between now and next Friday, I'll be impressed.
We start with Los Angeles tonight: we got a late chance at rix to the game, so we'll be heading out to the park - thanks to Azreous, who has kindly agreed to take over recapping duties, while we boo ourselves hoarse at their left-fielder. This has the potential to be a great pitching match-up, between the men ranked seventh and fifth in the league by ERA respectively. However, the key question is whether Haren can get back on track, as he's had an ERA of 6.26 over the past four starts - a far cry from the sub-two figure posted until that point. Said AJ Hinch,
He's been so dominant I don't want to make too much of it. I think he has changed his pitch execution a little bit, so we need to get him back on track by pounding the strike zone, throw his cutter whenever he wants to for a strike, throw a few more curveballs and just get him to execute more efficiently and back to the way he has 95 percent of his starts this year.
Kershaw has been monstrous of late - a 1.23 ERA over his last seven starts, with 45 strikeouts in 44 innings. And that includes eight shutout innings versus the Cardinals, plus seven against the Braves, so it's not like he has been feasting on weak offensive line-ups. That said, the Dodgers lead in the West is down to only five games, the smallest it has been since the middle of May, and they have a losing record since the All-Star break. The next seven days will be an interesting test of how much the Diamondbacks' apparent improvement is genuine.
Take a look over at True Blue LA, a site which makes it a damn sight more difficult to hate the Dodgers with the passion I feel I should - so I'll just focus that on Mandy, which is a lot easier. Eric wrote a nice piece on Reynolds and Haren, which also gives some love. Look forward to cheering on my colonial cousin this evening... though I guess you Americans probably count there too!
- Stephen Drew SS
- Ryan Roberts LF
- Gerardo Parra CF
- Mark Reynolds 1B
- Miguel Montero C
- Rusty Ryal 2B
- Trent Oeltjen RF
- Augie Ojeda 3B
- Dan Haren P
As noted, won't be about for this one, and looks like I'll be mostly reliant on 'Skins to keep things in check, since 'Charmer is working. Yeah. I used the words "Skins" and "in check" - why do I have a feeling I'm going to come back to find the 'Pit invaded by a party crew or something? :-) But even if we weren't at the game, I think we'd probably be out, since there's a whole bunch of films we want to see: District 9 is likely top of the list, but the new Miyazaki film Ponyo is also there - and, call us shallow, but I still want to see GI Joe. With a huge bucket of popcorn. And at a volume which will make blood come out of my ears. Happy weekend, folks...