With a 1-0 victory over the Cleveland Indians (39-43) on Monday night, the Los Angeles Dodgers (48-37) took sole possession of first place in the National League Western division. Dodgers’ pitcher Dan Haren fired seven shutout innings as LA took a half-game lead on the San Francisco Giants in the west. Dodgers’ rookie first baseman Clint Robinson got his first career Major League hit which drove in LA’s only and ultimately winning run on the night.
The Dodgers’ path to a division lead has been all but on a smoothly paved road. The last time Don Mattingly and his club found themselves in first place was on April 24, over two months ago. On June 8 Los Angeles was a hefty 9.5 games behind, then, division-leading San Francisco. Since then LA has gone 15-4, picking up 10 games within the division.
The ‘men of the mound’ for LA have contributed massively in the Dodgers recent hot streak. During the month of June, LA pitchers accumulated a 2.53 ERA. In June, opposing batters hit only .223 against the Dodgers hurlers, who also racked up 232 strikeouts as a staff over the month.
Dodgers’ pitching this season has been packed with valiant efforts from individuals within the staff. Clayton Kershaw put together a historic month of June, going 6-0 with a 0.82 ERA and 61 strikeouts. Kershaw also just happened to throw a no-hitter on June 18 against the Colorado Rockies. Zack Grienke also picked up two wins during June, giving him a 10-4 record to this point in the season. Grienke is tied for the National League lead in wins by a starting pitcher. Josh Beckett was dynamite for LA, sporting a minuscule 1.36 ERA this past month.
Currently standing at 48-37 on the season, the Dodgers hold the third best record in all of Major League Baseball. The Dodgers are certainly alive and well in their quest for back-to-back NL West division crowns. Favored by many as the World Series favorites in the preseason, the Dodgers have had their bar of expectation raised to a whole other tier by a fan base which has not hoisted the Commissioner’s Trophy since 1988.