Holy Crap, First Place?!

So, for the first time since early April…
Vin has written an article!
O.K., that was a joke… really.  Because April 4th the last time the Dodgers spent their lone day in first place!  It’s a little hard to believe, considering how many chances they have had over the past two months to leapfrog over Arizona, only to lose and fall back to 2nd.  But they did it and after winning 5 in a row and losing 8 in a row, our little bipolar Dodgers are now on a 7 game winning streak.  I call it: the Hiroki Kuroda Way To Winning.
While a 7 game winning streak is always impressive, this one has been especially impressive for a few reasons.  For starters, 4 of the 7 victories have come against rival Arizona.  But here’s the really great thing about it: the two pitchers who have received the losses in those games?  Brandon Webb and Dan Haren and it’s especially a rare thing when it’s against Brandon Webb.  Credit my partner in crime for calling this yesterday, but just to show you how rare it is: back in April, I had briefly outlined how the Dodgers had done against the better pitchers of the NL West and Webb has just had total ownage of the Dodgers.  I mean, if Brandon Webb and the Dodgers were in prison, the Dodgers would totally be his bitches.  Before these last two series, Webb hadn’t received a loss courtesy the Dodgers since 2004.
Now we’ve come out and beat him twice to the tune of a career high 8 ER last week and 7 ER yesterday.  Impressive.
But you know another thing that’s impressive?  Watching Chad Billingsley pitch.  Yesterday after going 6.1 IP, giving up 0 ER, 1 BB and 9 K’s, he continues to show why he is one of the very best pitchers in MLB.  As MSTI said, stop with the “he’s going to be an ace” talk.  He IS an ace and already one of the better pitchers in the game.  He’s beaten both Webb and Haren in his last two starts and has continued to get better and better.  Let’s just put this in perspective a little bit.  Throughout the second half, Billingsley has an ERA of 2.88, but look at his season numbers: yes, he is 14-10, but you already know MSTI’s positions on wins.  Look at the other numbers… he has an ERA of 3.02, a 1.29 WHIP, or take a gander at his 147 ERA+.  These are great numbers for anyone, but he’s only 24 years old.  Just total domination and deserves to be in the talk with all the other great aces in the game.  In fact, FireNedCollettiNow.com had an interesting piece of some of the lack of attention he’s been getting, especially after his last game.  Check it out.
Oh yeah, how about that Manny guy?  As if he didn’t own Arizona enough, he went 2-4 with a HR, and 5 RBI’s.  So, I guess it really wasn’t the hair.
Look at his numbers against Arizona since he’s been in L.A.  It’s really absurd:
Going into today, Manny is 18-34 against Arizona, which translates into a line of .590/.590/.1000, with 4 HR’s.
On the Andre Ethier news front: he went 0-2 yesterday with 3 BB’s.  What a bum.
Right now, this team is playing its best baseball of the year.  It seems they’ve finally figured out that you need to pitch well and hit well at the same time and right now they are doing that quite effectively.  Both the offense and pitching deserve credit for all the success over the past week, because they are kicking some serious ass and even if they lose today’s game, to take 2 out of 3 and 4 out of the last 6 from your divisional rival is damn good.  But you can’t take your foot of the pedal, now.  Arizona is obviously struggling and now is the time for the Dodgers to capitalize and start to create some room in the division.  But I’ll take what I’ve been watching: not only have the Dodgers been scoring a ton of runs against Arizona, they’ve just been shutting them down.  If not for the some of the suckiness of our pen in the 9th, we almost had them shut out two games in a row.
But yeah… guess the Dodgers don’t have the pitching to compete with Arizona, right?

- Vin vinscully-face.jpg