Giants Sweep Dodgers, Move Into First Place in NL West
Feeling as healthy and confident as they’ve been all season, the San Francisco Giants swept a three-game home series this week against their arch rivals, the Los Angeles Dodgers, to move into first place in the National League West Division. To exacerbate the misery of being swept, the Dodgers didn’t score a run, which marked the first time in history that the Giants shut them out over a three-game series.
I usually don’t get too high or too low with the outcome of games played between these two teams in June (after all, there is still half the schedule to be played), but there is some sense of optimism after a solid June (17-9 record) that the Giants may have finally turned a corner. Let me explain why.
In just over a month, the Giants have erased a 7½ game division deficit, due in part because the Dodgers have just not been healthy (Matt Kemp being the most notable loss). But also because of sensational starting pitching, lead by Matt Cain, Ryan Vogelsong and Madison Bumgarner, who have combined to post a 13-1 record with a 1.89 ERA. Bumgarner’s shutout win on Thursday night made it four consecutive shutouts by the Giants, which set a new franchise record.
Not to be outdone, the bullpen has been equally as impressive, with Sergio Romo (0.83 ERA), Javier Lopez (2.81 ERA) and Santiago Casilla (2.70 ERA) all delivering in high-pressure situations. Collectively, the bullpen has saved 14 of their 17 wins so far this month, with the one blip coming last Sunday against the Athletics where Casilla gave up a two-out, walk off homerun to lose the game.
Additionally, the team has started to hit, raising their batting average nearly 11 points from .258 in May to .269 in June. While Melky Cabrera and Buster Posey continue to put up all-star numbers, it’s production from guys like Brandon Belt (.303) and Ryan Theriot (.321) that have really provided a spark. Belt is probably the biggest surprise here – not because he’s not capable – but because he fell out of Manager Bruce Bochy’s rotation after a slow start to the season. He was given another opportunity earlier this month and he’s responded with 4 HRs, 13 RBIs and 12 runs to go along that .303 average.
It’s just a prediction here, but now that the Giants have taken the division lead, I don’t think they will be looking back, baring injury. The Arizona Diamondbacks are definitely poised to contend and they should certainly push the Giants. However, I just don’t see the Dodgers making a run, even with a healthy Kemp. They may be on the right path to contend in the future, but the team as currently assembled is just not deep enough in my opinion.
Time will tell though and rarely is anything decided in June.
Yankees Dealt Another Blow on Injury Front
The New York Yankees were dealt a significant blow this week when they lost starters Andy Pettitte and C.C. Sabathia to injury. Sabathia is expected to miss at least three starts due to a groin strain and Pettitte is out for six weeks after taking a line drive off his ankle. This is on top of losing starter Michael Pineda due to an anterior labral tear in his right shoulder during Spring Training, as well as Hall of Fame closer Mariano Rivera with a torn anterior cruciate ligament in his right knee.
Sabathia had been pitching well this season with a 9-3 record, 3.45 ERA and 105 strikeouts. Pettitte, who came out of retirement on March 16 after a year hiatus, had been pitching well too, posting a 3-3 record, 3.22 ERA and 59 strikeouts in just 58 innings of action.
Despite the setback, nobody seems to be panicking in the Yankees organization. Yes, they lead the American League East Division by five games and they have hands down the most potent lineup in baseball, but it will be interesting to see if they can weather this latest storm.
They are really going to need guys like Adam Warren (5-5, 3.86 ERA in Triple-A Scranton) as well as veteran Freddy Garcia to step up. It’s a bit of a question mark, as Warren will be making his major league debut Friday night against the White Sox and Garcia will be getting another shot in the rotation after losing his spot in late April after going 0-2 in four starts, lasting only 13 2/3 innings, with a 12.51 ERA.
Manager Joe Girardi will definitely be earning his pay over the next few months navigating yet another challenging situation. However, as long as they get decent starting pitching, the boys in pinstripes should be just fine.
2012 All-Star Game Selection and Inside the Numbers
Now that the votes have all been cast, TBS will broadcast the MLB All-Star Selection Show this Sunday July 1st at 1:00 p.m. EST, when we’ll find out who the fans selected as starters to represent the American and National League in Kansas City. Below are some random tidbits about the All-Star game worth sharing:
- According to MLB, fans cast an all-time record 3.8 million ballots on Thursday, June 27, which smashed the previous high of 3.4 million ballots on July 2, 2008.
- As of June 25, Rangers slugger Josh Hamilton was closing in on the all-time voting record – only 143,000 votes behind the 7,454,753 votes Jose Bautista received last year.
- Aramark expects to go through 2,400 lbs of brisket, 1,800 lbs of pulled pork, 600 racks of ribs and 650 gallons of BBQ sauce during All-Star week.
- Just a hunch, but I’m betting Melky Cabrera narrowly beats out Ryan Braun for the third outfielder spot for the National League.
- I may be one of a handful of people that actually watch the game…what about you?
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