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News » Dodgers-Diamondbacks Preview 2009-04-10

Dodgers-Diamondbacks Preview 2009-04-10

Dodgers-Diamondbacks Preview 2009-04-10
The Arizona Diamondbacks were in prime position to win the NL West last season before their poor play down the stretch against the Los Angeles Dodgers helped cost them the title.

The Diamondbacks had plenty of awful starting pitching in those games, and that was a big reason why they opted to sign Jon Garland in the offseason.

Garland will make his Arizona debut Friday night in the opener of a three-game series at Chase Field when the Diamondbacks play the Dodgers for the first time since last season's collapse.

Arizona (1-2) won the opener of a three-game home set with Los Angeles (2-2) on Aug. 29, 2008, to take a 4 1/2-game lead over the Dodgers in the NL West. Los Angeles was reeling at the time with an eight-game road losing streak, but won the final two games of that series and swept Arizona the following weekend at home to take control of the division race.

Arizona was unable to contain Los Angeles slugger Manny Ramirez, who went 12-for-19 with nine runs scored and seven RBIs in his last six games versus the Diamondbacks in 2008.

"We have some ideas of things that we've got to do a little bit differently," Arizona manager Bob Melvin told his team's official Web site about pitching to Ramirez. "I think for the most part we didn't make our pitches on him last year."

Sending Garland to the mound may not help stop Ramirez, who is 13-for-25 (.520) with 10 RBIs in his career against the veteran right-hander. The Diamondbacks are hoping Garland can solidify a rotation that went 0-4 with a 9.75 ERA in the five-game losing streak to the Dodgers to close last season.

They signed Garland to a one-year deal worth $6.25 million, with an agreement that includes a $10 million mutual option for 2010. The Diamondbacks were impressed by Garland's run of seven consecutive seasons with at least 32 starts and 190 innings.

"In my mind, if you can go out and put up 200 innings or something near that, you're doing something right to stay in the game that long," Garland said. "You're obviously giving your team a chance if you're going that deep and to me, if I was a manager, that's what I'd want from my pitchers. I like to try and give the bullpen a day off every time I take the mound."

Garland will make his National League debut after going 14-8 with a 4.90 ERA last season with the Los Angeles Angels. He has never faced the Dodgers.

Ramirez is 3-for-11 this season for the Dodgers, who travel to Arizona after splitting a four-game series in San Diego to start the season. Los Angeles is hitting just .184 (7-for-38) with runners in scoring position.

Arizona won its opener Monday at Colorado 9-8 with 12 hits, but had totals of only two runs and 10 hits in losing the next two games of that series to the Rockies.

The Diamondbacks will get their first look at Dodgers rookie James McDonald, who makes his first major league start. McDonald made four appearances out of the bullpen last season for Los Angeles, allowing five hits over six scoreless innings.

The 24-year-old right-hander, originally selected as an outfielder by the Dodgers in the 11th round of the 2002 draft, also pitched 5 1-3 scoreless innings against Philadelphia in last year's NL championship series.

Author:Fox Sports
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Added: April 10, 2009

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