History will likely remember last night’s game against the Dodgers, mostly for Jake Lamb’s go-ahead grand slam in the bottom of the seventh inning. But if you were watching the game on television, what might stick in your mind was the pumped-up Archie Bradley, exiting the mound after shredding the Dodgers on seven pitches in the top of the eighth. “This is our house! Let’s go”, he was yelling, pumping up the fans and his team-mates on the way to the dugout.
Inevitably, this led to some reaction on Twitter from salty Dodgers fans, mostly with tired exhortations to look at the standings. Way to miss the point entirely. Personally, I took last night’s game as a trailer for the likely National League Division Series - where I should point out [since Dodgers fans seem unclear on this point] that the score will start at 0-0, regardless of how many games Los Angeles wins in the regular season. And I think they are going to have a tough road, because their - certainly impressive - record is largely based on beating up low and medium level teams. Against likely playoff opponents, the Dodgers have fared less well.
Versus the four other likely National League post-season teams (Cubs, Nationals, D-backs and Rockies), Los Angeles are only 18-14. That trails the Nationals, who have done considerably better against potential opponents than the Dodgers, with a 14-9 record. The Rockies (19-19) and D-backs (15-17, having outscored LA in their head-to-head contests) are not far behind either. The Cubs are the ones likely to be in trouble: they currently have a losing record against all four, and are 8-15. Outside of them, I think the others will give Los Angeles a run for their money; they’re a different proposition from the sub-.500 teams, on whom LA have feasted (50-14) this year.
I think it was demonstrating that - especially at home, where the D-backs are 37-18 - which helped trigger Bradley’s magnificently passionate outburst. “This is our home field... I don’t care how many games back we are, I don’t care if we’re the worst team in baseball. It has nothing to do with the standings, it has nothing to do with the playoff race. It had to do with tonight and our fans being better than theirs.” Via @FoxSportsArizona, here’s Archie’s post-game explanation in full.
The presence of large packs of fans for the away team at Chase has long been an irritant. I suspect it’s not going to go away any time soon - Arizona has the highest percentage of “born out of state” residents of any MLB state. [And, let’s face it, I’d also take any chance I could get, to escape Los Angeles] But this season gives the team a chance to develop a bigger, more passionate fan-base, and that’s going to be what drives the atmosphere at Chase Field. Seeing the players pumped-up and obviously enthusiastic is incredibly infectious, and while it obviously shouldn’t be an everyday occurrence, last night was perfect.