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Records aside, Dodgers-D'backs race still worth watching

Big League Stew

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Here on the Stew, we've been as guilty as anyone for making fun of the state of the NL West. DB called it the 'NL Wurst' in this morning's Juice, while I've paid more attention to the future of the Dodgers' broadcaster than whether or not Max Scherzer can save the D'backs.

But I have to admit that I feel a little bad for doing so. I mean, a playoff chase is still a playoff chase and if you don't think that Dodgers and D'backs fans are following just as closely and living and dying with each win or less just like Mets or Phillies fans, well, then you're probably not much of a fan of baseball. I tuned into a decent part of this weekend's series — a triumphant Dodgers sweep — and enjoyed it, no matter what the teams' records were.

Obviously so did Dodgerland and a few of their takes — as well as a couple of D'back dispatches have been excerpted below:

Orel, Sons of Steve Garvey: "As they say, timing is everything. (Unless you're in real estate, then it's location, location, location.) Just over a week ago the Dodgers were coming off three consecutive series losses, including sweeps by the Phillies and Nationals, and a 9-3 loss to Arizona. Eight losses in a row — a season high.

"Turn the page to September and the Dodgers suddenly have three consecutive series wins of their own, including two sweeps. Most importantly, they won five of their final six games with Arizona, upping their season record to 10-8 against the Diamondbacks. Eight wins in a row—tying a season high.

"Everything the Dodgers need to win has been on display during the past eight games. In this span they've hit 14 total home runs, they've scored at least five runs per game, their starter hasn't gotten the win only once, and they've made only three total errors."

Helene Elliott, Los Angeles Times: "Yes, the weakness of the NL West has allowed the Dodgers to make up a lot of ground. They've benefited from the synchronized nose-dives of the Diamondbacks' top two starters, Dan Haren and Brandon Webb, and they outscored Arizona, 19-5, in sweeping the three-game series here.

"And yes, the Dodgers remain far from perfect. They struck out 12 times Sunday, 11 of those in five innings against rookie Max Scherzer. It's nothing short of mind-boggling that they're leading the division — any division — with a middle-infield combination of Blake DeWitt at second and Angel Berroa at short.

"But here they are with 19 games left in the season, standing on top of the heap, gaining ground and confidence ..."

Kambrothers, Blue Notes: Sweeps Week — Not the ultra-competitive version that rules the TV industry, although in the case of the Dodgers, these last seven days carried a similar importance that would make NBC, CBS, ABC, and Telemundo work a sweat. Last Monday saw the Dodgers begin a new series against San Diego, one that concluded with a sweep result that kept the Blue on a roll. Seven days later, here we are, with a 5-3 win over the D-Backs in the books and another sweep on the ol' resume.

Jon Weisman, Dodger Thoughts: "As for the Dodgers, who have made up six games in the standings in nine days, things are going as right now as they were going wrong before. That's not a character transplant. That's baseball."

Nick Piecoro, Arizona Republic: "Leaders in the National League West for 137 days this season, leaders by 4 1/2 games 10 days ago, the Diamondbacks trail the Dodgers by 1 1/2 games. Their fate no longer rests in their own hands.

"'This was a game that would have been big for us,' slugger Adam Dunn said. 'We played hard, but they made the plays and got the key hits. We didn't.' ...

"The day began with manager Bob Melvin holding a team meeting before batting practice, and though the ensuing game certainly had a better feel than the blowout losses that opened the series, the Diamondbacks made enough mistakes to ensure defeat."

Jim McLennan, AZ Snakepit: "Onwards to San Francisco, but I have little hope left for the stretch run. Yes, we did indeed see what the Diamondbacks were made of this afternoon. It appears to be styrofoam, balsa wood and groundless optimism, assembled by a committee of inept third-graders."

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