NL West [Position] Battle Royale
Matt Kemp went on the DL with a leg injury which shelved him for quite some time and the Dodgers were unable to manufacture any runs as they continued to lose and allow the Giants to creep back into contention. Entering a crucial series between the two, the Giants managed to shut out the Dodgers throughout the 27-inning bout, moving into a tie for the division lead for the first time all season.
The Dodgers also lost Andre Ethier to a hip-flexor in the finale of the series, however, he has since returned after the All-star break. Entering today's matchup with the Phillies, the Dodgers had posted a record of 6-19 in their last 25 games, relinquishing the division lead to their arch rival. The Giants were the talk of baseball after All-star weekend after Melky Cabrera (MVP), Pablo Sandoval and Matt Cain stole the show.
The Giants have been one of the hottest teams in baseball of late. Entering the second of three games with the Atlanta Braves tonight, the Giants have posted a team ERA of 0.69 with a 4-0 record since the break. Matt Cain (10-3, 2.56 ERA), Madison Bumgarner (11-5, 3.15 ERA) and Ryan Vogelsong (7-4, 2.36 ERA) continue to anchor a deep pitching rotation while Barry Zito (8-6, 3.75 ERA) and especially, Tim Lincecum (3-10, 5.93 ERA) look for the consistency necessary for this team to do extensive damage come October.
Entering tonight, the Giants hold a firm three-game lead over the Dodgers in the divisional race, however, these teams are set to clash next weekend in the Bay Area for what is sure to be a terrific series.
Each and every time these teams meet, the pressure mounts. But before they do, rest assured the Giants will attempt to widen their lead in the division before meeting with the Dodgers once again. The Dodger bats will have to come to life for LA to have an opportunity to regain their footing in the division.
Who will win the tight division race? Can the Dodgers overcome low home attendance, a weak lineup and an injured starting rotation to surpass the Giants? Or will San Francisco run away with the division in the next few weeks?