The Arizona Diamondbacks aren’t going to win the NL West, but they could play a big role in its outcome.
The Diamondbacks will be playing the role of spoilers when they begin a 13-game stretch against division contenders with three games against the Los Angeles Dodgers.
Arizona has dropped 13 of its last 16 to fall 15 games behind San Francisco. The Diamondbacks’ swoon cost manager Bob Brenly his job on Friday, with third base coach Al Pedrique taking his place on an interim basis.
Pedrique and the young Diamondbacks plays their next seven on the road against the Dodgers and Giants heading into the All-Star break.
Ace left-hander Randy Johnson wants his young teammates to step up their play during the second half of the season.
“There’s a lot that’s happened this year. We all know that,” said the 40-year-old Johnson, who is 10-6. “It’s not easy for anybody right now, so I think a lot of people just really need to step up. It’s time to step up and start being accountable. This is the major leagues now. It’s not the minor leagues anymore.”
Johnson threw a five-hitter as Pedrique got his first win as Arizona manager in a 6-2 win over Minnesota on Sunday.
The NL West has shaped up as a three-team race between San Francisco, San Diego and Los Angeles. The Giants lead the Padres by a half-game with the Dodgers in third place, 1 1/2 back.
The Dodgers have won five of their last seven, including the last two in their interleague series against Anaheim.
Wilson Alvarez will start against the Diamondbacks. The veteran left-hander will be making his first start since allowing five runs and seven hits in a 5-1 loss to Atlanta on May 23.
Alvarez has not won since beating the Chicago Cubs 4-0 on May 12.