Thursday, August 28, 2008

Guzman Puts Dodgers In Complete Slide Cycle

A week ago today, the Los Angeles Dodgers were tied with the Arizona Dimondbacks for first place in the National League's western division... The Dodgers headed to Philadelphia to start a 10 day road trip to hopefully take control of the division... such though has not been the case at all... Greg Maddux got pounded by the Phillies as did Clayton Kershaw, the Dodgers losing the first two games by a combined 17-3 score. The Dodgers then wasted a great outing by Derek Lowe, blowing a 2-1 lead and eventually losing 5-2 in extra innings. In game four of the series, the Dodgers reached base a staggering 17 times (13 hits and four walks), and yet failed to plate a run in losing 5-0.

While being swept by the playoff contending Phillies on the road is hardly embarrassing, what happened to the Dodgers in the nation's capital the past three days was beyond bad... In game one of the series, another strong outing by D-Lowe was wasted as the Dodgers could only manage a single run off Collin Balester and four Washington Nationals relievers. A throwing error by Greg Maddux led to two unearned runs - the margin of defeat - as the Dodgers lost again to the Nats last night, 5-4.

Game three of the series was a complete rout almost from the outset. After Manny Ramirez gave the Dodgers a 2-0 lead with a home run which also plated Andre Ethier in the first inning, the Nationals offense exploded. Clayton Kershaw gave up five runs in just 2 1/3 innings, including a solo home run Cristian Guzman and a three-run blast from the just returning Elijah Dukes. Dukes would homer again in the 7th inning... it was Guzman though who stole the show, singling in the second inning and then doubling in the 6th inning. In the 8th inning, Guzman drove a ball deep and over center fielder Matt Kemp's head for a triple to complete the rare cycle. In the four year history of the Nationals, Guzman's was only the second cycle, the first being by Brad Wilkerson on April 6, 2005. At the end of the night, the Nationals had an 11-2 win and an improbable three game sweep of the quickly fading Blue Crew.

Fortunately for the Dodgers, the Diamondbacks have been losing as well but their losing streak is only four games. With a day off today, the Dodgers loss increased the D-Backs lead to 3 1/2 games in the National League West. Tomorrow, the Dodgers start a crucial three game series in Arizona. Needless to say, something's got to give. Realistically, the Dodgers really need to take at least two of the three games to have a legitimate chance of making the playoffs. Of course, if the Dodgers lose two of three or (gasp!) extend their losing streak to ten games, it will look like my hopes of a "Freeway World Series" will be all but dashed once again.


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