Thursday, July 11, 2013

Somehow, someway, Dodgers could go worst to first by the break

It took 14 innings on Wednesday night, but once again the Dodgers found a way to win, downing the Diamondbacks, 7-5.  It took a blown save by Heath Bell in the ninth, followed by back-to-back jacks from Hanley Ramirez and A.J. Ellis in the 14th to seal the deal.

And with that, the Dodgers are a mere 1 1/2 games in back of the DBacks for first in the NL West.  Which means, after playing some horrible baseball for the first 2 1/2 months of the season, the Dodgers could actually be in first place by the time the All-Star break comes after Sunday.

It's hard to believe, but with a red hot team that's won 15 of 18, it certainly can happen.

Both the Dodgers and DBacks have four games left at home, with the Dodgers playing the Rockies, and the DBacks hosting the Brewers.  Neither team is over .500 (Rockies 44-48, Brewers 37-53), so the advantage shifts to the home teams.

What will it take for the Dodgers to be in sole possession of first?  For starters, take a look at the starters on the mound.  They unfortunately have to suffer through Chris Capuano on Thursday, who's been horrible lately.  If they can somehow get a win regardless, then Clayton Kershaw, Zack Greinke, and Ricky Nolasco are lined up to go next, and the Rockies could be in trouble.  We all know what Kershaw can do, but Greinke and Nolasco combined to go 14 innings for one run against the DBacks, so they're on a roll.

The Rockies counter with a couple of awful starters in Drew Pomeranz and Juan Nicasio in the first couple of games.  Tyler Chatwood and Jhoulys Chacin follow, and they're actually pretty good and probably love pitching away from Coors Field.  So it won't be easy against them.

Over in Arizona, the DBacks will get a start out of All-Star Patrick Corbin on Friday, but none of their other starters of Wade Miley, Randall Delgado, and Ian Kennedy have winning records or are anything special.  The Brewers are terrible this year, and their supposed "ace" in Yovani Gallardo has been a big part of that.  Kyle Lohse has pretty good numbers, but that's it.  In other words, the hitters should have their way.

Momentum is clearly on the Dodgers' side, as they're getting contributions from just about everybody.  On the flip side, the Rockies are only 3-6 in July, and are nine games under .500 on the road, which shouldn't be too surprising.  They've really hit the skids since starting the season 13-4.

One key factor to keep in mind is that Troy Tulowitzki is expected to be activated for this series, and he's been awesome this season by hitting .347 with 16 homers and 51 RBIs.  He must be salivating at the thought of hitting against Capuano.

Overall, the Dodgers need to win at least three of four to have a chance at sole possession of first.  The DBacks need to win at least three to ensure first regardless of what the Dodgers do.  Since the DBacks have played one more game, the Dodgers need to match them in the win column to ensure first place.

Thursday's game will be tough from a pitching standpoint, since Capuano is on the mound and the bullpen is so tired from going nine innings the night before.  If the Dodgers still find a way to win, then look out.  This recent run isn't ending anytime soon.

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