NL West Heats Up

Who would have thought the best two teams in the NL would be the Padres and the Dodgers?

Brad Penny and Jake Peavy dominated as their respective teams maintained best in breed status. The problem is they both compete in the NL West and will beat each other up down the stretch.

But, Penny certainly impressed Dodger fan last night after a sweep of the NL East leaders. By issuing no free passes over seven innings for the second consecutive time, Penny confused these paper champions all night long. He stated,

“I thought I threw the ball pretty well. I had no walks, so I’ll take that every time. That’s a great [Mets] lineup. It’s probably one of the toughest lineups in baseball, so it was nice for this team to sweep them.”

Penny’s 97 mph strike out of Shawn Green at the end of the third inning was his fastest pitch all night. Rather than heading directly to the dugout, Penny confronted Green about stealing signs in the first inning. Green acted bewildered, and the Mets followed suit as Penny mowed the rest of them down too.

Penny lowered his ERA to 2.18, the second-best mark in the NL to Jake Peavy’s 1.82. Just three hours earlier though, Peavy was preparing for excellence too. The Devil Rays pounded the Padres for 11 runs the night before, a result Peavy had no interest in replicating.

But, before he could even throw a pitch, the Padres had mounted a five-run first inning lead.

“My job is easy when you have to give up nine to lose,” Peavy said. “We just wanted to be aggressive early and slam the door and not let them have any life. They come back and score a few runs, they feel they can chip away at the lead, but we kept them off the board.”

You sure did. Peavy only needed one of those runs. Over seven innings, he allowed only two hits, struck out eight, and lowered his road ERA to 0.87.

So, now we have a tie atop the NL West with the Dodgers off today, and the Padres facing Tampa Bay in an early contest. At least we’ll have a division leader before the Dodgers face the Angels this weekend, and San Diego entertains Chicago.

San Diego and L.A. both pitch in pitcher-friendly parks and have assembled quality staffs. I like the Dodgers because of the young talent like James Loney, Matt Kemp, and Chad Billingsley that they have brought up to help the cause. Russell Martin is exceptional on both sides of the plate and their bullpen is stingy. This is all reminiscent of the 2003 Marlins.

It’s a new Dodger Blue in 2007.

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2 Responses to “NL West Heats Up”

  1. DodgerBlue Says:

    Good comparison to the Marlins of 03 as I’m sure that is something Juan Pierre can attest to.

  2. Pop Cultured Says:

    DodgerBlue – Quality staff, timely hitting, and a stingy bullpen are what make champions in baseball today…’05 ChiSox, ’03 Marlins, ’01 D’backs to name a few recent examples…

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