The Los Angeles Dodgers were heavy NL West favorites in spring training, then they were in the basement in May. However, the Dodgers have swung back to take the NL West lead, and hardly look ready to slide again. They further proved it on July 30, with a walk-off 3-2 win over the New York Yankees that extended their division lead in front of a packed house.
The Dodgers impersonated the Los Angeles Lakers on this night, as celebrities like Jack Nicholson went to Chavez Ravine for the Yankees’ first visit in 32 years. While the Yankees are more of a sideshow attraction these days thanks to the Alex Rodriguez mess, the Dodgers have gone from a circus to a powerhouse in just over a month.
After shooting itself repeatedly in the foot in April and May, Los Angeles is now 27-6 since June 21. Its latest win came on a two-out, ninth inning hit from Mark Ellis, who lined the ball over Derek Jeter’s head. The hit upped Ellis’ average to .415 since the All-Star break, as he is just one of Los Angeles’s many red hot stars.
With the Dodgers having won four straight and the Arizona Diamondbacks on a three-game losing streak, the NL West has opened up for Los Angeles. Its 3 1/2 game lead is far from the biggest in baseball, but it looks like one of the safest at the moment.
Since the division was fairly weak in the first half of the season, it bought the Dodgers enough time to work the kinks out. Now that they have, they not only have the NL West under control, they look like the biggest pennant threats other than the three NL Central leaders.
Los Angeles and New York are the two biggest centers of the baseball world. However, the Yankees are making headlines for all the wrong reasons at this time, thanks to Rodriguez and their fading status in the AL wild card race. Yet the Dodgers were making all the wrong headlines to start the first half, but they’ve managed to turn it around and then some in the second — although there’s still time for another sudden shift.