Jun 10, 2015; Los Angeles, CA, USA; Arizona Diamondbacks first basemanPaul Goldschmidt
(44) is congratulated in the dugout after hitting a two run home run in the fifth inning against the Los Angeles Dodgers during the game at Dodger Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Richard Mackson-USA TODAY Sports
Things are starting to look up for the Arizona Diamondbacks.
Over the weekend, they completed a four-game sweep of the Cincinnati Reds and finally broke that invisible ceiling to jump over the .500 mark with a 62-61 record.
The D-backs haven’t been above .500 since April 22 when they were 8-7 on the very young season. After that, they dropped the next four games in a row.
Since then, they have hopping around the .500 marker and it seemed like each time they would take a step forward in the right direction, they immediately would take two steps back.
But finally, 123 games into the season, the D-backs are a winning team. And they are very much in playoff contention.
The NL West leading Los Angeles Dodgers are in the middle of a five-game losing skid and were swept by the Houston Astros over the weekend to fall to 67-56 with a 1.5 game lead over the San Francisco Giants.
The D-backs are right behind them, just five games back of first place.
For their own sake, the San Diego Padres are jumping into the race as well. They have been playing very good baseball as of late. They are 7-3 in their last 10 games and are 61-63 this season, having taken two-of-three from the St. Louis Cardinals over the weekend.
Real quick, here’s how the standings look as of Monday morning:
1. Dodgers / 67-56
2. Giants / 66-58 / 1.5 games back
3. Diamondbacks / 62-61 / 5 games back
4. Padres / 61-63 / 6.5 games back
5. Rockies / 49-73 / 17.5 games back
It’s exciting to see. As we wind down to the last 40 games or so of the season, it’s a four-team race in the West.
The Dodgers have been plagued by bad pitching pretty much all season long – aside from Kershaw and Greinke – as the bullpen has been unable to hold leads.
A good example of this would be Sunday’s 3-2 loss to Houston which resulted in a no decision for Kershaw who threw eight innings and allowed just one run on seven hits with no walks and 10 strike outs.
On the flip side, the D-backs are clicking. They came back from 4-0 deficit on Thursday to defeat the Reds 5-4 in the opener.
Call to the Pen
They went on to easily win on Friday 6-3 and Saturday 11-7 before slamming the door on the Reds with a 4-0 shutout on Sunday afternoon.
It was a great weekend of D-backs baseball and while fans were cheering from the Valley, the fans in San Diego had their own reason to cheer.
The Padres scored 17 runs against the Cardinals in the first two games of the series combined. They won 9-3 Friday and shut out the Red Birds 8-0 on Saturday.
St. Louis avoided the sweep with a 10-3 win on Sunday, but the Padres were able to seal the series victory the night before.
This is significant because the Cardinals are arguably the best team in baseball. They own the best record in both leagues (78-45) and lead a division that many consider to be the best in The Show.
And why is that? Well, both the Pittsburgh Pirates and the Chicago Cubs are keeping pace with St. Louis. In fact, the Pirates and Cubs hold the first and second Wild Card spots in the National League.
The Pirates hold the first spot sitting at 74-48 while the Cubs hold on to the second spot at 71-51.
So, the top three teams in the NL Central have over 70 wins. Compare that to the American League where the only team with 70 wins is the Kansas City Royals.
The Astros and Toronto Blue Jays lead their divisions with 69 wins.
So, the Pirates and Cubs would be leaders in another division but there own. No other team in the National League has reached the 70-win marker yet.
It’s truly amazing.
And the fact that the Padres beat the Cardinals in such a fashion – twice – over the weekend, proves they are heating up.
Now it’s the D-backs turn. They’ll be tested as St. Louis comes to Chase Field for a four-game series beginning on Monday night.
Bottom line, it’s anybody’s game in the NL West. They’ll decide it as we run down the final stretch of the season.