Team batting average, HRs, HRs allowed, Slugging percentage, runs; the Dodgers lead the should-be hapless Padres in every category that is supposed to matter. Despite every apparent advantage the Dodgers dropped two out of three in the just concluded series with the Padres, falling seven games out in the West in the process.
Following a recent sweep of the visiting Mets, the Dodgers were getting healthy, and, entering the San Diego series, looked primed to close the gap on the surprising and doubtful Division leaders.
The Dodgers took Game 1 on Tuesday, shutting out the Padres, and making it look easy. Everyone from the Dodger's batboy to the LA Times' T.J. Simers jumped on the opportunity to write San Diego off:
"The Padres are in first place, and what a disgrace that is, and that's with Buddy Black as a manager, who demonstrated Tuesday night he's not ready to handle big-game situations."
Simers, often sparing in his praise of the Padres, here refers to a decision Black made to leave struggling starter Jon Garland in the game to pitch to pinch hitter Andre Eithier. A decision which cost the Padres two runs; the difference in the game.
Surprisingly, Buddy Black did not take his own live, but instead returned and literally won the next two games with timely pinch hitting decisions; Tony Gwynn on Wednesday, and Oscar Salazar last night.
With a payroll almost triple that of the Padres, coupled with the vaunted Dodger history, the assumption that Los Angeles will surely catch and pass San Diego is understandable. With play on the field not meeting expectations, another season of disappointment seems more likely.
This article also appears on Sports Haze.