Miami Marlins: 29-22 (6/1-6/3)
The Marlins have climbed the latter in the crowded NL East thanks to a 21-win month of May. After a rocky April, highlighted by Ozzie Guillen’s pro-Castro comments, it looked like the new look fish had already gone bad. If the last month has taught us anything, it’s that there are no bad teams in this division, and the Marlins are currently the most dangerous. If you haven’t been paying attention to the Marlins recent surge, one major reason for their success has been young slugger Giancarlo Stanton.
This kid is bread for stardom, and has launched 12 homer runs during the last month of play. Stanton has put the offense on his broad shoulders, but he isn’t the only player contributing. Omar Infante continues to hit everything thrown his way, and Hanley Ramirez has even started to resemble his all-star form from two years ago. Looking ahead on a baseball schedule can be a tricky business with teams going through multiple hot and cold stretches. Unfortunately, the Phillies are catching the Marlins at the wrong place at the wrong time.
When We Last Met:
The Phillies won 2 out of 3 in their first meeting way back in April. Anyone who looked at the series as a crystal ball for the upcoming season was thrown for a loop. Roy Halladay improved to 2-0 on the season (sucking up the pain in the process). Cole Hamels got knocked around losing his first game of the season (and hasn’t lost since). The only take away from the series that has carried through the season is the hot hitting of Carlos Ruiz. Chooch hasn’t let up from his hot start, carrying the Phillies lineup through their offensive drought.
The Phils should take head, as they face a much different Marlins club then the one that came to town back in April. Editors Note: Anyone looking for a good soundbite should just head down to the Marlins hotel bar after each game, you know Ozzie is good for it.
1) Giancarlo Stanton continues his power surge, launching home runs into the second deck of the bank.
2) Ozzie Guillen and Charlie Manuel get into heated debates with the umpires, and no one can understand what either of them are saying.
3) Despite the Marlins hot streak, Chooch and the boys manage to take 2 out of 3 with Cole Hamels adding to his win total in the process (can you say 20 game winner).
Fansided Perspective: Ehsan Kassim of Marlin Manic and I reflect on why the Marlins are playing so well of late, WHY?!?
Can we attribute the Marlins hot streak to the team finally starting to gel, or is chemistry on this club overrated?
Normally, I would say chemistry in baseball is unimportant. I am not worried about how a team meshes in the clubhouse as long as they can win ballgames on the field. But this team is something else. Every opposing team seems to hate this whole “Lo Viste” thing the Marlins do, but I love it. It seems to bring the team together. So yes, I would give a lot of credit to team chemistry for this teams fantastic run.
Have fans forgiven Ozzie for his foot in mouth disease, or did he finally cross the line?
I just traded for Giancarlo Stanton in my fantasy league. Good move? The real guy seems to be killing it.
LA Dodgers: 32-19 (6/4-6/7)
The Dodgers are the best team in baseball. The team’s quick assent into first place has made many prognosticators look like amateurs. Despite the star power of Clayton Kershaw and Matt Kemp, no one thought the team was a real playoff contender.
Two months later the team is showing no signs of letting up. LA has suffered a small bump in the road in their quest to win the west, with Matt Kemp heading back to the DL with hamstring issues. The injury might derail Kemp’s hopes of winning an MVP, but the team has found ways to win without their leading hitter in the lineup. Part of the solution has been the resurrection of Bobby Abreu, but we’ll get to him later.
The names may not be entirely recognizable, however the formula should be. The Dodgers are winning with pitching, defense, and timely hitting. Phillies pitchers will be happy to avoid Kemp in the four game series, but they shouldn’t be overconfident against this savvy veteran team.
Player to Watch: SP Clayton Kershaw
One player the Phillies can’t avoid is last years Cy Young award winner Clayton Kershaw. Don’t let Kershaw’s pedestrian 4-3 record fool you, he is every bit the dominant force he was last season. He is averaging just shy of a strike out per inning, and is right behind another left hander in this year’s award race. As Kershaw goes, so goes the Dodgers. The Phillies track record against the big southpaw is a mixed bag, with Carlos Ruiz and Shane Victorino having the most success.
However, J-Roll and Hunter Pence have struggled mightily hovering below the mendoza line. Kershaw is a special talent, and is a must see for any baseball fan, even if it comes at the Phillies expense.
Most Hated Dodger: OF Bobby Abreu
Hey Phillies fans, remember Bobby Abreu?! The former Phillie was left for dead by the Angels, but has found new life across town with the Dodgers. Abreu put up great numbers in his time in Philly, but is most remembered for his lackadaisical attitude and failure to make the playoffs. You can’t put all the blame on Bobby, but it’s no surprise that the team turned a corner when he left the clubhouse. His lack of leadership was replaced by Howard, Rollins, and Utley, which enabled the Phillies to become World Champions. It may be a bit of an oversimplification, but Abreu always seemed like a guy who always played on his own fantasy team. He’s all stats and no glory.
Fansided Perspective: Scott Andes of Lasorda’s Lair broke down all the latest with the best team in baseball.
Now that the initial shock of the Dodgers hot start has worn off what does the team need to do stay in first the rest of the way?
After the initial shock and wonderfulness has worn off, the Dodgers need to continue to hit with runners in scoring position. One of the big reasons for the Dodgers success this season has been their ability to get timely hits. Clutch hitting is so important. The Dodgers this season are hitting .267 with a .365 OBP with runners in scoring position. Ranking them third in the NL, and eighth in the Majors.
Another thing the Dodgers must do is remain healthy. Injuries are tough for any team, but the Dodgers have lost their starting third baseman, second baseman, Left fielder, fifth starter, two middle relievers, backup shortstop, and our Perennial MVP candidate Matt Kemp all to injury. Since Kemp has gone down, the Dodgers are 9-5. Now Kemp is back today, as is Jerry Hairston, and Juan Rivera is due back later this week, so the Dodgers are getting healthier.
I am hoping the Dodgers will be back at full strength soon. The Dodgers have used an attack of pitching, defense and timely hits to beat the opposition this year
Pardon the egregious pun, but could this be a “Magical” season with the new ownership group in place?
Yes it is. Since the first week of ther 2012 season, it is becoming more and more clear for us Dodger fans, that this season is shaping up to be a special season. Now that the err of ownership uncertainty has lifted from Dodger Stadium, Dodger fans are flocking back to the ball park in droves now that scumbag McCourt is finally gone. As you know the announcement of the winning bid, and sale of the Dodgers to the Guggenheuim Baseball Management, and Magic Johnson, triggered a,massive wave of joy and relief for all Dodger fans across the globe.
The black cloud over Dodger Stadium has been lifted. Our long nightmare finally ended, and we have a bright blue future ahead of us. Even earlier this year, when Bison was hurt, the team continued to find ways to win, as there was a different hero every game. Dodger fans have waited 24 years.
Our time is now. We have the most utterly dominating starting pitcher in the league, regning NL cy young winner Clayton Kershaw, the best position player in the league, in Matt Kemp, the greatest broadcaster ever, in Vin Scully, beautiful Dodger Stadium, and we have the best record in Baseball. yes Dodger fans are happy, and 2012 is turning into a magical season indeed.
Are Dodger fans salivating at our doomsday scenario of Cole Hamels returning to Cali in the off-season?
Some I find are more excited for the off-season, then they are for the regular season. They just want the Dodgers to be major players again in the free agent market, I can’t blame them though of course. The thing is, yes Cole Hamels is a great pitcher. He is a world Series MVP, and one of the better pitchers in the league. I would love to see Hamels pitching in a Dodger uniform.
However, I do realize that this is a long way off. We are a long way from this winter, and Hamels won’t be a free agent until this off-season. I think it is possible that he could sign with the Dodgers, but it is very likely he could resign with the Phillies. The way I see it, there is no point in worrying about this until the winter.
So, until then I hope Dodger fans concentrate on the regular season first, then when the season is done, and we have our world championship rings (hopefully), then we can turn our attention towards free agency. However keep in mind, the Dodgers have Kershaw, Capuano, Harang,Lilly, and Billingsley all under contract through next year. They also will have mega prospect Rubby De La rosa returning to the rotation in 2013, after recovering from Tommy John Surgery.