Dodgers' shrinking NL West lead no cause for concern
Ronald Martinez/Getty Images
By Steve Phillips, ESPNFor a good part of the season, the Dodgers had been perceived to be the best team in baseball. That's no longer the case, but they are still a high-caliber team that is bound for the postseason.
|Featured Series: Dodgers at Rockies|
Dodgers (Clayton Kershaw) at Rockies (Jason Hammel), 8:40 ET
Dodgers (Randy Wolf) at Rockies (Josh Fogg), 8:40 ET
Dodgers (Vicente Padilla) at Rockies (Jorge De La Rosa), 3:40 ET
TOUCH 'EM ALLWho went deep? Keep track of all the home runs hit each day on "Baseball Tonight" and on the Baseball Tonight Clubhouse page. For more, check out the Home Run Tracker page.
|Home Run Tracker|
|Carlos Pena, TB||35||Halladay||Top 5: 0-0, 0 Outs. 1 on.|
|Ryan Howard, PHI||34||Parnell||Top 3: 3-2, 1 Out. 1 on.|
|Ryan Howard, PHI||33||Parnell||Top 1: 2-2, 1 Out. 2 on.|
|Ryan Braun, MIL||27||Balester||Top 6: 0-0, 0 Outs. 1 on.|
|Paul Konerko, CWS||23||Buchholz||Top 5: 2-1, 2 Outs. 2 on.|
|Ben Zobrist, TB||23||League||Top 7: 0-0, 0 Outs. None on.|
|Mike Lowell, BOS||16||Contreras||Bot 3: 3-2, 2 Outs. 2 on.|
|Travis Hafner, CLE||13||Meche||Top 4: 3-0, 1 Out. 2 on.|
ON DECK: TUESDAY'S BEST MATCHUPSRangers at Yankees, 7 p.m. ET The Rangers have lost each of the past three games Kevin Millwood has pitched, though Millwood has escaped each with a no-decision. Joba Chamberlain didn't last very long the last time he faced Texas; his day was done after four innings. He walked four, struck out five and permitted three runs in a 7-3 loss. Astros at Cardinals, 8:15 p.m. ET Perhaps the night's best pitching matchup, with the Cardinals' Adam Wainwright (14-7, 2.61 ERA) facing the Astros' Wandy Rodriguez (12-7, 2.89). Wainwright has not given up more than two runs in a start since June 26. Rodriguez has given up a run or fewer in eight of his past nine outings. Tigers at Angels, 10:05 p.m. ET Jarrod Washburn still is searching for his first win with the Tigers. He is 0-1 with three no-decisions. He has allowed at least five runs in three of his four starts. The Angels have scored only four runs over John Lackey's past three starts. For the rest of Tuesday's schedule, click here.
BBTN ON THE AIR: TUESDAY
|10 p.m. ET
|Host: Karl Ravech
Analysts: John Kruk, Peter Gammons, Chris Singleton
|12 a.m. ET
|Host: Karl Ravech
Analysts: John Kruk, Chris Singleton
BBTN MINUTE: DODGERS/ROCKIES PREVIEW
ESPN researcher Mark Simon digs deep, looking for the night's best baseball numbers.Tonight, he looks at Johan Santana, who teammates have suggested might be headed for arm surgery. Clearly, there is something wrong with Santana:
|Johan Santana (2009)|
|First 10 starts||Past 15 starts|
|K's per 9 innings||11.7||5.4|
|HRs per 9 innings||0.7||1.3|
|Avg. fastball (mph)||91||90|
|Pct. of fastballs 90+ mph||73.1||52.2|
MONDAY'S BEST AND WORST
|• Yes, Ryan Howard hit a pair of homers, but it was yet another masterpiece from Cliff Lee that earns the honor. Lee came into the game with a 0.82 ERA in four starts with the Phillies -- and lowered it. Lee gave up two runs -- neither earned -- to lower his ERA to 0.67 since moving to the National League. Lee is now 5-0 with Philadelphia thanks to a 6-2 win against the Mets.||WORST|
|• Jose Contreras has made 26 starts this year. He's lost an American League-leading 12 of them. His most recent came when he lasted only 2 2/3 innings against the Red Sox, giving up four hits, seven runs and three walks in the White Sox's 12-8 defeat. He is now 1-5 over his past eight starts.|
NUMBERS TO KNOWPhiladelphia Phillies slugger Ryan Howard has been on a tear lately, hitting eight home runs over his past 11 games and driving in 22 runs. He has now hit 34 home runs this year, his fourth straight season of topping the 30-HR plateau. However, this season has been different from his previous three in regard to distribution of home runs. From 2006 to 2008, Howard hit 68 percent of his home runs against fastballs. However, that number has dipped to 52.9 percent in 2009, one of the lowest percentages in the majors among hitters with 20 or more homers (only Michael Cuddyer, who has hit 50 percent of his homers on fastballs, had a lower percentage entering Monday).
Howard is punishing more inside fastballs (.313 BA, .716 SLG, seven homers) than he did in previous seasons.Howard and the NL East-leading Phillies begin a series with Pittsburgh on Tuesday and will face right-hander Ross Ohlendorf. Opposing batters are hitting .299 with a .485 slugging percentage against Ohlendorf's fastball. And 14 of the 20 homers he's surrendered this year have been off his heater.
Home run by pitch type (2006-09)
|Pct. of HR||AB/HR||Pct. of HR||AB/HR|
FANTASY: PREVIEW OF TUESDAY'S GAMES
Adam Madison examines the 15 games on Tuesday's slate.
Madison ranks the pitchers scheduled to take the mound and supplies loads of other information that could help shape your roster for Tuesday. Daily Notes