If Tuesday night is any indication, the front four of the Dodgers' rotation is ready to take on anybody.
Ricky Nolasco was simply awesome in his Dodger debut, giving up only one run on four hits in seven innings, walking none and striking out five. He also added an RBI single, as the Dodgers took an early lead and never looked back in downing the Diamondbacks for the second straight night, 6-1.
Much like the previous game, it was all Dodgers, and their starting pitcher had so much to do with it. Zack Greinke tossed seven scoreless inning on Monday, giving these two only one run surrendered in 14 innings with 12 strikeouts. It's hard to get much more out of your starting pitchers than that. And to think, those numbers are without Clayton Kershaw, who won't start until Friday.
Nolasco's RBI single in the second scored A.J. Ellis for the early 1-0 lead. In the fourth, Andre Ethier singled, stole second, and went to third on a throwing error from Miguel Montero. An RBI groundout by Skip Schumaker made it 2-0.
The Dodgers added a couple more in the fifth, though they got a gift in order to do so. It was Nolasco who started things with a double to right center. Carl Crawford laid down a perfect bunt for runners on first and third. Yasiel Puig walked, and the bases were loaded.
Up came Adrian Gonzalez, who lifted a long fly ball to dead center. Adam Eaton, a hot young prospect who finally made his season debut after missing time with an elbow injury, appeared to stumble a bit setting up to make the catch, and did, in fact, not catch it. Officially it was scored as a sac-fly RBI with an error, and both Nolasco and Crawford came in for the 4-0 advantage.
The last runs for the Dodgers were scored in the sixth. The bases were loaded once again, and this time Gonzalez left no doubt with an opposite field two-run double, putting his team up 6-0.
The only blemish on the evening for Nolasco came in the seventh. Aaron Hill doubled with one out, and then Martin Prado hit an RBI single with two outs to finally get the DBacks on the board after 15 scoreless innings.
J.P. Howell and Ronald Belisario handled the eighth and ninth, respectively, to close out the game.
There was a bit of drama in the ninth, though nothing more than that. On a two-strike count, Belisario beaned Montero in the foot, causing a warning to be issued to both teams. After the game, Belisario was quoted as saying that the issue is NOT over, yet he DIDN'T throw at Montero on purpose. Um, OK.
That came well after Ian Kennedy, who plunked Puig and Greinke at or near their heads back in June to ignite a brawl, beaned Hanley Ramirez on a changeup in the first. Nothing came of it, and even Don Mattingly admitted that it wasn't on purpose. What was on purpose was when Puig tried to run over Montero on the same play where Eaton dropped the ball in center, and was tagged out by a mile. It sure looked like Puig just wanted to get his licks in, and somewhat did. Again, nothing came of it.
There's still one more game for something to possibly happen, but for now, the focus will go towards the Dodgers' attempt at a sweep. Speaking of great starting pitching, Hyun-Jin Ryu takes the hill. He's been fantastic this year at 7-3 with a 2.83 ERA, 1.23 WHIP, and 90 K's in 111 2/3 IP. He was a bit of an unknown when he was signed this past offseason, even though his success in Japan could not be denied. He certainly has handled pitching in America with ease.
If the Dodgers do get the sweep, then they'll only be 1 1/2 games in back of the DBacks for tops in the NL West. And then, almost improbably, they have a chance at gaining the top spot if they finish the first half strong against the Rockies. Wouldn't that be something?