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The defending world champion San Francisco Giants got off to a rocky start with numerous impact players on the disabled list. The Giants have been snakebitten with injuries to center fielder Andres Torres, second baseman Mark DeRosa, infielder Pablo Sandoval and pitchers Barry Zito and Santiago Casilla.
In their place, the Giants got a lift from touted prospect Brandon Belt before he was sent down, and so far Pat "the bat" Burrell and Buster Posey have been hot at the plate.
As usual, the Giants' starting pitching has been fantastic with Tim Lincecum, Matt Cain and Jonathan Sanchez, but the bullpen and closer Brian Wilson have been a subject of concern after Wilson's slow return from injury.
The Giants stand at 13-14 and are in third place, 4.5 games behind the fiery Colorado Rockies, who jumped out to the best record in baseball for the first couple weeks. Behind slugging shortstop Troy Tulowitzki, the Rockies have been destroying pitchers far and wide. Tulo has seven home runs and 17 RBI so far and had an incredible 10 games where he hit all seven of his home runs.
Behind Jorge De La Rosa (4-0 record) and Jhoulys Chacin (2.92 ERA), the Rockies pitching staff has picked up the slack for struggling Ubaldo Jimenez. Closer Huston Street has been a perfect 10-for-10 this season, shortening games for opponents.
The Los Angeles Dodgers have been mired in controversy but have actually managed to hold their own this season. 14-15 this season, the Dodgers have been propelled by the phenomenal play of Andre Ethier (he of the 27-game hit streak and .378 batting average) and Matt Kemp (six home runs, 19 RBI, .373 average, .609 slugging percentage), who both look like locks for the All-Star team and perhaps MVP candidates.
Injuries have plagued the Dodgers as well, but with Jamey Carroll batting .296 in replacement of Rafael Furcal and Aaron Miles providing a spark in place of Casey Blake, the Dodgers have not flopped as many expected. Still, the Dodgers are struggling mightily offensively, as James Loney continues to lack confidence at the plate.
Loney's fall from grace prompted the call-up of Jerry Sands, who has played both left field and first base since his call-up. Sands' power potential has led to Dodgers manager Don Mattingly putting him in the lineup every day even as Sands finds his way.
Clayton Kershaw has proved why he is an ace in some of his performances but has lacked the consistency needed, as his 2-3 record indicates.The Dodgers are still waiting on players to turn it on, such as how free-agent pickup Juan Uribe (shown left) started out the season with six hits in his first 54 at-bats before raising his average to almost .250 in a couple weeks.
The San Diego Padres and Arizona Diamondbacks make up the bottom of the NL West, failing to get the needed combination of pitching and hitting. Ian Kennedy of the D-Backs has molded himself into an ace, and Stephen Drew has 22 RBI.
The Padres recently took two of three from the Dodgers and have improved of late behind solid pitching from Dustin Moseley, Mat Latos and Aaron Harang. Offensively, Ryan Ludwick and Nick Hundley have been propping up the fort.
The West will obviously be won by the team that can play the most consistently over the entire course of the summer. Unlike some clear contenders in other divisions, it is going to take quite a long time to see which one can realistically achieve its goal of a division crown.