National League West Round-Up

 

graphic by elisemyers; logos, standings prop. of MLB

San Francisco Giants
Although the season is only nearing the halfway mark, the Giants are wasting no time to show their division how the West is won. The team is currently sitting atop the league with 50 wins.

Without contest, the greatest beard in baseball, and arguably one of the best pitchers in the bigs, is San Francisco’s own Brian Wilson (who by now you know not to confuse with Brian Wilson, the singer from The Beach Boys). Wilson’s heart might be the only thing bigger than his glorious beard and his 25 saves this season. Earlier this week, Wilson gave away gloves and spent time with kids from the Junior Giants program that serves little leaguers who live in underprivileged areas.

The Giants played a long series earlier this week against their division not-quite-rivals, the Padres. Wednesday’s game was drawn out for extra innings with a bullpen stalemate, in which a record 36 batters were retired, 17 from each team. Right fielder Nate Schierholz exhibited his new and improved swing, and launched one out of the park for a walk-off 6-5 win for the Giants in the bottom of the fourteenth inning.

Pitching is clearly another of San Francisco’s strengths this season, as four of the team’s arms were selected for the 2011 All-Star Team: Matt Cain, Tim Lincecum, Ryan Vogelsong, and Brian “Fear the Beard” Wilson.

Satisfy your Giant appetite at Third Street Kings

Arizona Diamondbacks
The stifling 100-degree heat in Phoenix is not the only thing the D-backs are beating. The Arizona club is playing a strong ballgame over .500, and the team currently grasps the second place spot in their division, only one game behind the Giants. How do you like them prickly pears?

The Diamondbacks can win in the heat, and in the rain — Thursday on the road in St. Louis the game was delayed twice due to rain. However, the slick field at Busch Stadium failed to stop the Snakes from stunning the Cardinals with a 4-1 victory on Thursday. Earlier in the week, the Diamondbacks triumphed in their road series against the Brew Crew in Milwaukee, with a total of 16-12 runs for the three-game series.

The Diamondbacks will host the 2011 All-Star Game on July 12th at their home park, Chase Field. Despite this, only one D-back, right fielder Justin Upton, was voted to the 2011 All-Star Team reserves.

Check out D-Backs Strike for all your D-needs.

For more information on the 2011 All-Star Game, watch this tour of Chase Field with Veronica Padilla.

Colorado Rockies
The Rockies are stuck between a rock and a hard place, that is, the dreaded mediocrity of the median margin in the NL-West division. At this point, the pesky Padres trail by only 2 1/2 games, so slipping down in the NL-West is a hazard. The Rockies came off a wearisome series against the Braves, in which the Rockies lost 0-4. The pitching staff disappointed the team again, and Rockies’ manager made the call to the bullpen to replace Juan Nicasio before six innings were up. Nicasio allowed an astonishing five of the Braves’ six runs in only 2 1/3 innings.

Now Colorado faces the Nationals for a three-game series and hopes to recover their deficit from Atlanta. Last night, the Rockies beat the Nats 3-2 in the Nation’s Capital to end their five-game losing streak. Perhaps the Rockies’ pitching is back under control, and the team will be able to pick up some more Ws on their way to the All-Star break. Just don’t blame it on the al-al-al-altitude change (they’re not back in Denver just yet).

Colorado fans can Rock out at Blake Street Buzz.

San Diego Padres
The Padres seem to be struggling in their sin-Gonzo situación this season, after San Diego’s proudest son, All-Star first baseman Adrian Gonzales, kissed his familia “¡Adiós!” and packed his bags for Boston. Talk about mala suerte por los Padres. However, the team tied their series with the NL-West leaders, the Giants, at AT&T Park earlier this week, at two wins each, despite outscoring San Francisco 16-14 over the four games. Up next, the Padres continue their road trip to take on their division rivals in Los Angeles, the Dodgers. Both teams are at the bottom of the NL West division, and are motivated to chalk-up some W’s in their three game series before the All-Star Break

Padres’ backstop Nick Hundley was taken off the lineup for elbow surgery on Friday. Hundley stated:

“If I knew it was going to get better, I’d play through it, but it’s not getting better. And at some point, I’d be shut down because of it. I didn’t think it was fair to the team if I kept playing.”

Hundly also mentioned that he plans to return to the team before the end of the season.

Padres’ pitcher Aaron Harang should rejoin the team for tonight’s game in L.A. Harang was out since June 13th with a fractured bone in his foot.

Current Padres’ star, center fielder Cameron Maybin,  is on course to break Padres’ first base coach Dave Roberts and Hall of Famer Tony Gwynn’s shared franchise record of thirteen season triples. Thus far, Maybin tallied six triples before the All-Star Break, just three short of Dave Winfield and Dave Roberts’ tied record.

Los Angeles Dodgers
The Dodgers are having it rough this season. Fans might argue that financial frustrations over (hopefully soon-to-be-ex-) owner Frank McCourt are impacting the team, or maybe it’s a hole left by the absence of the Torre-Manny force, or perhaps even frustration that ex-catcher Russell Martin is suddenly having a prosperous All-Star worthy season with the Yankees. Whatever the case may be for the woes of the Boys in Blue, and it may be none of these things, L.A. finally stamped out a rough five-game losing streak to shut-out the Mets on bobblehead night Thursday, and then went on to beat the Padres 1-0 Friday night.

2011 All-Star Matt Kemp leads the Dodgertown Gang in all offensive stats with his .323 batting average, 22 blasts, and 66 ribbies. Dodgers’ pitcher Clayton Kershaw, with nine big Ws, seems to be on the way to his best season yet, and will join Kemp on the National League team as an arm in the All-Star pitching staff. Teammate, heartthrob, amateur chef, and bobblehead star of right field, Andre Ethier, unfortunately fell short to the Phillies’ Shane Victorino in the final vote for the 2011 All-Star Team. All that said, Victorino was placed on the 15-day Disabled List early Friday for a sprained thumb, and Ethier ultimately ended up landing a spot on the All-Star roster in Victorino’s stead.

For more Boys in Blue, head over to The Ravine Report.

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