This is Around the Foghorn’s National League Recap, which you can expect every Friday.
National League East
The entire National League East is separated by only four-and-a-half games, with the Atlanta Braves (22-17) doing everything they can to repair the gaping hole in their fort, created by the San Francisco Giants capturing five of six games over the past two weeks.
The Braves lead the Washington Nationals (21-19) by a game-and-a-half, but the Miami Marlins (21-21), who checked into AT&T Park last night for the first of four, are only a half-game behind them. This past week has not been a good one for the Fish (4-16 on the road) who have lost six of seven, including a sweep by the Padres. They are still adjusting to the stunning announcement that ace Jose Fernandez, 21, will undergo season-ending Tommy John surgery on his elbow.
The Nationals have had a mixed bag the past ten days, taking their series with the Dodgers (2 of 3) and D-backs (2 of 3), but getting swept by the Oakland A’s, who outscored the Nats, 21-4.
The New York Mets (19-20) have been on the losing side of six of their last nine games, followed by the Philadelphia Phillies (17-21) who are also experiencing technical difficulties by losing seven of their last nine.
As the season hits the one-fourth mark, this is a division up for grabs, with no one team taking control as of yet. Only the Braves (4-3) had a winning record last week and the Marlins, Mets and Phillies have struggled mightily. Speak now or forever hold your peace.
National League Central
The Milwaukee Brewers (26-15) have been in the driver’s seat in the National League Central since the beginning of the season. The St. Louis Cardinals (21-20), Cincinnati Reds (18-21) and Pittsburgh Pirates (17-23) are clumped together between five and eight games behind, and the Chicago Cubs-wonder of wonders-bring up the rear, already an even dozen games behind.
Since May 4th, the Cubs have dropped three series to the Chicago White Sox, the Braves and the Cards, salvaging only two victories in their last eleven games. They were swept by the Braves and took only one from their cross-town rivals, the Sox, the final game of the four-game series. This being manager Rick Renteria’s first season, one instinctively understands that matters must improve quickly for Renteria to avoid a hasty departure.
Though the Pirates’ record shows them six games below the .500 mark, they have won five of their last eight games, including the final two games of the three-game set with the Giants. Their most recent series was against the Brewers and they held their own, with the Brew Crew mustering up ten runs for the three games, while the Pirates put up nine.
Last season’s success is too recent to give up on Pittsburgh so soon.
True to their record, over the past seven games, the Reds have taken a three-game series from the hot Colorado Rockies, and dropped a series to the Padres. But if you go back to the opening series in May, a four-game set against Milwaukee, you see that the Reds took three out of four. They may be playing slightly below .500, but their recent play against the hot Rockies and the first-place Brew Crew, would indicate that Cincinnati is heating up.
It’s hard to tell much from the Cards’ play last week. They dropped two of three to the Pirates and they took two of three from the Cubs, both kind of predictable. They are six and six in the month of May, so far just marking time. However, I would never go so far as to leave a Mike Matheny team too far out of my reckoning.
Though Milwaukee has been in first place since the beginning of the season, if you look at their last four series, you’ll note that they have rebounded against the New York Yankees (2 of 3) and Pirates (2 of 3), after losing a series to the Diamondbacks (2 of 3) and dropping three of four to the Reds.
There is a five game gap between the Brewers and the second place Cards, so nothing is likely to occur this week to change the status quo.
National League West
In the Wild, Wild West, you already know that the San Francisco Giants (27-15) are on top, but did you know that the last-place Arizona Diamondbacks (16-27) have a winning record on the road, at 12-10? Or that they have won eight of their last thirteen games? Or that they have taken series from both the Milwaukee Brewers and the Chicago White Sox since the start of May? In a division as competitive as the N.L. West, do not count out the Snakes.
The one thing that always leaps out at me when you talk about the San Diego Padres (19-22) is pitching. With a team ERA of 2.98 and a WHIP of 1.22, this is not a team to discount either. They are only three games under .500, and always give the Giants fits. Their offense, like that of a couple of recent Giants teams, is the problem. Jedd Gyorko leads the team with 5 home runs and 20 RBI’s, but the Padres have only 26 homers altogether.
The Los Angeles Dodgers (22-20) just breathed a collective sigh of relief at the Giants’ departure from Chavez Ravine, after losing three out of four over last weekend to San Francisco. LA has lost eight of thirteen since May 2nd, and have dropped four-and-a-half games back of the Giants.
The Colorado Rockies (23-19) lead the universe with a .296 team batting average and 58 home runs, but have lost five of their last six games and are three and a half games behind San Francisco. So far this season, the Giants and Rockies have played evenly to a 3-3 record, with San Francisco taking the home series and dropping the one in Colorado.
The Orange and Black have taken up residence at the top of the division, still reveling in their 7-3 killer road trip record, including seizing three out of four from the Blue Crew down in Tinsel-Town. With Brandon Belt’s thumb injury sidelining him for at least six weeks, the Giants have called up Tyler Colvin from Fresno to fill in at left field, while Michael Morse takes over the first base position.
Except for the Detroit Tigers (24-12), the Giants have the best record in the majors (27-15), with an amazing fifty home runs. They are ranked number two in the power polls, and if they keep playing the way they have recently, that’s not going to change.
And that’s a wrap for the National League, where the Giants, Brewers and Braves are leading their respective divisions. We are one-fourth of the way through the season now, so things are starting to fall into place, as to the pecking order.
I find it refreshing that the Giants are using their bats to do the “pecking.”