Dodgers hurler Chad Billingsley will take the mound with intentions of bringing out the brooms and sweeping the first-place Padres tonight. After spending the entire month of April sitting in relative disarray, the Dodgers have come out in May spitting hot fire. Winners of six straight, including a sweep of division rival Arizona, the Dodgers have managed to cool off the once-hot Padres for the first two games of the three game set.
Clayton Kershaw went seven strong last night, giving up one run and striking out seven. Closer Jon Broxton, who has one save in all of April, recorded his 6th save of the season and has an ERA of 1.23. The offense chugged along even without MLB batting leader Andre Ethier, who broke a pinkie in batting practice and whose return is unknown(though one would assume a DL stint is forthcoming). 700-year old Garrett Anderson, replacing Ethier in right field, had an RBI triple and first baseman James Loney went yard and stole his 5th base of the year.
In the first game, a 4-3 barnburner, former Cardinal/Yankee/Mariner/Tigers starter Jeff Weaver swooped in for the win, relieving the ancient Ramon Ortiz(who gave up three runs in four innings). Friday’s game also saw center fielder Matt Kemp get off the snide, with his first homer in weeks as well as a stolen base attempt. The Dodgers will need Kemp to return to his early April form if the broken digit on Ethier keeps the right fielder out for a significant amount of time.
Still, let’s take time to reflect on how far this Dodgers team has come. A month ago, they were an underachieving ball club with a mediocre pitching staff that couldn’t escape the basement in a relatively weak NL West. Now, they are the hottest team in baseball and looking for their second straight series sweep of a division rival after failing to sweep ANYONE prior to their three game tilt with Arizona last week. A win tonight will put them just two games back of San Diego with a two game series against the Padres coming later in the week. While injuries still plague this team(On top of losing Ethier, there’s still no set timetable for Vicente Padilla’s return, not that they’ve missed him), the return of Manny Ramirez has balanced out the offense and GM Ned Colletti’s faith in his pitching staff has given newfound confidence to the young rotation.
So tonight, the Dodgers will be hoping for their 7th straight W and with lowly Houston coming up for a two game homestand, L.A. could be hosting the Padres while in the middle of a 9-game winning streak and first place in the West on the line.
That’s a far cry from where we thought this team was headed a month ago.
About the Author
Written by Dave Leonardis
Born and raised in New Jersey, I've been writing since I was 10 and blogging since I was 18. I'm a huge sports nerd, following football, baseball and basketball in particular in close detail. My style is very upfront. I don't pull punches and I'm not shy about criticizing anything I feel deserves a proper tongue-lashing. If you're looking for someone who says what he wants, when he wants, then look no further than this guy right here.