Dodgers Boast; Rockies, D-Backs Not Impressed -- It's About Winning on Field

In the hours leading up to the official announcement of the Dodgers acquiring Manny Machado from the Orioles, Dodger pitcher Ross Stripling offered, "it would be pretty demoralizing" for the rest of the the NL West.

"That's almost a super team," he said, after rattling off the names of several Dodgers players, "I feel like, on paper."

Longest World Championship Droughts
Indians 1948
Pirates 1979
Orioles 1983
Mets 1986
Dodgers 1988
World Championships Since 1988
5-Yankees 2009, 2000, 1999, 1998, 1996
3-Giants 2014, 2012, 2010
3-Red Sox 2004, 2007, 2013
2-Miami 2003, 1997
2-Blue Jays 1993, 1992
2-Cardinals 2011, 2006
1-Astros 2017
1-Cubs 2016
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1-White Sox 2005
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Expansion Teams No Championship
Rangers 1961 (Lost 2010, 2011)
Brewers 1969 (Lost 1982)
Nationals 1969 (Never appeared)
Padres 1969 (Lost 1984, 1998)
Rockies 1993 (Lost 2007)
Mariners 1977 (Never appeared)
Rays 1998 (Lost 2008)

There is reason for hope, for sure, that the Dodgers can put the pieces together to win a world championship for the first time since 1988  -- five years before the Rockies even played the first game in franchise history. That they can put an end to a stumble since then that has seen the Dodgers advance to the playoffs 12 times, including each of the past five years, without a championship ring.

But it doesn't seem that depression has hit the two teams that woke up Saturday morning focused on overtaking the NL West-leading Dodgers -- the second-place D-Backs, who are 1 1/2 games out of first, and third-place Rockies, just two games off the pace.

When the news broke of the deal being official on Thursday, Arizona pitcher Robbie Ray, opined, "It's not like it's Babe Ruth."

And when the Rockies gathered in Phoenix on Friday to open the post-All-Star portion of the season with a three-game series against the D-Backs, third baseman Nolan Arenado didn't seem "demoralized."

"Just continue to do what we do, which is win ballgames," Arenado told members of the media in Phoenix before Friday's game. "We continue to play great baseball. That's our only focus."

He added, "It's not the Los Angeles Manny Machados. It's the Los Angeles Dodgers. They're a team and they're good. He changes their lineup, for sure, but our lineup is pretty deep, too. I think we're going to be just fine. We've got to focus on us."

Then, he and the Rockies took the field and rallied to pull out a 11-10 victory against the D-Backs.

Arenado set the stage with two home runs, giving him a share of the NL home run lead at 25 with Brewers' Jesus Aguilar, and a share of the NL RBI lead with Javier Baez of the Cubs at 72.

And Raimel Tapia delivered the first grand slam of his career, in a pinch-hit role, to cap off a six-run seventh inning against D-Backs reliever-supreme Archie Bradley, who had been ahead in the count 0-2. And just like that, the Rockies led, 11-8.

"It is good to see a young player do that," said manager Bud Black. "It tells you there is growth. He's been in the big leagues (off-and-on) the last couple of years and it's a process. And here he is, to a point where he has had some big-league at-bats and the moment is not fazing him. We're on a comeback and he delivers. it's awesome."

It's not like Bradley is just some guy. He took the mound with a 1.97 ERA, having allowed only 10 earned runs in 45 2/3 innings prior to Friday. The ERA is now 3.11, and he has allowed 16 earned runs in 46 1/3 innings.

The six runs were the most he has given up in 111 career appearances -- double the previous career-high. He has now given up six runs in a relief appearance once, three runs once, two runs five times, one run 16 times and no runs in 88 relief appearances.

"Bradley is one of the best relievers in the game," said Black. "Power fastball. Good secondary pitches with the breaking ball. Tap hung in there. You have to give Tap credit for hanging in, in a big spot, and doing that."

It was not a work of art, by any means. The Rockies allowed 11 runs -- even if two of them were unearned. A team that was leading Major League Baseball in fielding percentage and fewest errors committed two errors plus a passed ball, and there were wild pitches by relievers Adam Ottavino and Chris Rusin that led to runs.

But it was a win -- the 14th in 17 games for the Rockies.

And the Rockies feel that, in itself, shows the team's resilience and roster depth.

This is a team that was sitting atop the NL West after games of May 29. They were in first place, 1 1/2 games up on the second-place D-Backs, and 4 1/2 up on the third-place Dodgers. Four weeks later, they were in fourth place in the NL West, having lost 17 of 25 games, and eight games back of the division-leading Dodgers.

Look at them today. They are in third-place, but just a half-game behind the D-Backs and two games back of the Dodgers. In that 14-3 stretch, it hasn't been a matter of taking advantage of lesser teams. They are 4-0 against the Giants, 2-1 against the Dodgers, 3-1 against the D-Backs, and 5-1 against the Mariners.

"This team has good resolve," said Black. "This team has great fight. What it has done doesn't surprise me."