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NL West Roundup: The Dodgers Pull Away From The Pack

Your weekly recap on the Best (and Worst) of the West. 

August 15-21, 2022

A look at the NL West for the week, in order of standings.

Los Angeles Dodgers

Peaks and valleys for the Dodgers rotation this week.  On August 15, it was announced that starter Walker Buehler will have season-ending elbow surgery.  He last pitched for the Dodgers in a game against San Francisco on June 10th.  He went on the injured list with a right forearm strain the next day.  

As sad and frustrating as is for Buehler and his fans, the Dodgers rotation has been doing pretty ok in his absence.  This week the team got a major power player back in the form of Dustin May.  May had his own season-ending surgery early last season and spent close to 16 months away from a Major League mound.  After a rocky first where a single and two walks loaded the bases, May pulled out zero after zero for five innings. He allowed no more hits on the night.

The irony of May’s return on the Walker Buehler jersey giveaway night was not lost on fans. 

Dodgers split a four game series with the Brewers in Milwaukee then came back home to sweep the Marlins.

As a side note, former Yankee Joey Gallo continues to prove that he, in fact, is the top winner of the 2022 trade deadline.  A beard and Dodger Blue seem to suit him better and better every game. On Sunday, he had an assist at home and a diving catch while out in left field.  At the plate, Gallo tripled in the bottom of the second to score on a Bellinger home run, then. He singled and scored on a Mookie Betts single.  All of those hits came off of the previously nearly untouchable Sandy Alcantara.

And as an even smaller footnote, the Dodgers have decisively taken the lead for the best record in baseball. That title was held by Gallo’s previous team, the New York Yankees.  In fact, since the Gallo trade at the deadline, the Dodgers have gone 14-3. The Yankees? A near inverse 4-13. Maybe they should just let the kids grow beards, eh?

And in a big, huge footnote, the Dodgers offense tagged Cy Young candidate Sandy Alcantara so hard in 3.2 innings on Sunday that his ERA is now 2.19. The Dodgers’ own Tony Gonsolin? Currently sitting at 2.12.

The Dodgers are the first MLB team to hit 80 wins and have a record of 84-36, back above .700 for the season.  After a hosting another series against the Brewers, the team heads to Florida to face the Marlins once again. Let’s hope four days is enough time for Miami to lick their wounds. 

San Diego Padres

The Dodgers weren’t the only ones to see the Marlins this week. The Padres visited Miami and dropped the series to them, winning just one of three. That win was, however, straight out of a vintage San Diego playbook. Jake Cronenworth smashed a grand slam in the first to put the Padres up by four and the Friars never looked back. They won a decisive 10-3 victory to avoid the sweep.

Newly minted Padre Juan Soto got to see some of his old teammates when the Nationals visited San Diego for the next series. All eyes were on him for the reunion, especially since relations were strained between Soto and the Nationals – or at least the Nationals’ front office. It did not go in his favor at first.

He and teammate Josh Bell (who also came over in the Soto trade), combined for 0-for-12 at the plate Thursday and Friday.  A ninth inning run explosion off of closer Josh Hader seemed like salt in the wound. And boy howdy did the boos rain down from the stands at Petco Park.  

But on Saturday, Soto and Bell both homered. Their solo runs and a great outing from the Padres pitching staff was enough to win the game. The Padres rally continued into Sunday and the two teams split the series.

It’s pretty easy to be glib about winning and losing the trade deadline, but with the tumult in the Padres clubhouse last week, it’s understandable they’re not feeling very cohesive right now. 

The Padres sit at 68-56, still in the running for a wildcard spot. They have a two game series with Cleveland at home before heading to Kansas City for a weekend series.

San Francisco Giants

Four straight losses to division rivals means the Giants are below five hundred and watching playoff possibilities stretch further and further away. When I said they still had a slight chance last week, I was looking ahead at this week and their opponents and assuming they could handle them. The Giants could not.

The Giants split a series with Arizona at home, then dropped the series to the divisionally last place Rockies. San Francisco took Colorado to extras on Saturday, but the Manfred Man in the form of local legend Wynton Bernard struck them in the tenth. Sunday’s game also went to extras, but this time the dial went to eleven and spun in the Giant’s favor. A grand slam from Evan Longoria, his first in nine years, definitely helped.

San Francisco now hovers at 60-61 and face two more road series in Detroit and Minnesota before heading home. Both the Rockies and the Diamondbacks are below the Giants in standings, but San Francisco’s performance this week doesn’t guarantee that the order will stay that way.

Arizona Diamondbacks

On the flip side, the Diamondbacks are continuing to improve on last year’s dismal record.  They have already won three more games this season over last year and just might elbow their way into the middle of the pack by the start of September. But, ah, this week probably won’t do it for them. After the aforementioned split series with San Francisco, the D-backs were swept at home by the Cardinals.  

Saturday’s loss was particularly brutal. After leading for three innings and being tied for five, Cardinal Lars Nootbaar triple scored three to put the game at 7-4 in St. Louis favor. A few knocks and some smart base running put the Diamondbacks back within one run.

Then came the top of the ninth. A single, double, then single scores a run for the Cardinals. A walk loads the bases. And Paul DeJong smashes a grand slam into deep left, snapping an 0-for-20 streak over his knee like a twig. A single and a walk puts two on the bases just so Paul Goldschmidt could knock his 31st homer and one hundredth RBI into deep right. The brutal beating also came along with two Pujols long balls. For those counting, Tío Albert now sits at 692 career home runs.

The Diamondbacks could not answer back in the bottom of the ninth. Call-up lefty JoJo Romero retired the side for the Cards in twelve pitches. 

Even with a week such as this, third place in the division is within reach for the Diamondbacks. Though looking ahead at the schedule, it’s more of San Francisco’s to lose than for Arizona to take. Still, three more than last year with seven weeks to go ain’t too bad.  

Well, it’s better.

Diamondbacks sit at 55-66.  They hit the road for a series in Kansas City then onto the south side of Chicago for the weekend.

Colorado Rockies

Swept by the Cardinals, the Rockies then took the series from San Francisco two games to one. As mentioned above, local legend Wynton Allen Bernard’s speed featured in key moments for his team. In Saturday’s close shave against San Francisco, he hit a go-ahead run in the seventh and booked it around third on a base hit from Brendan Rodgers. Bernard’s smart baserunning has garnered him three stolen bases in just 27 plate appearances. 

Rodgers, by the way, went 4-for-5 at the plate on Saturday in addition to that game-winning knock into centerfield.

Catcher Elias Díaz is back from the 10-day injured list. Díaz left the game on August 10 with wrist issues that had been ongoing for a month. After some rest and an anti-inflammatory injection, he is on the mend and back on the active roster.

RHP Antonio Senzatela will have season-ending ACL surgery next week. Senzatela was chasing down an infield ball towards first but crumpled to the ground when he tried to change course to cover first. It is unfortunately only the most recent injury to plague the pitcher this season, putting his development of secondary pitches on hold once again.

The Rockies are 53-70. But man, that Wynton Bernard sure is fun to watch. 

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