Printed for personal use only

Dodger Thoughts: Dodgers, Giants stagger into All-Star Break

They were the best in the National League West for the first half of the 2012 baseball season, but the Dodgers and San Francisco Giants appeared anything but as the All-Star Break Arrived. 

Hours after Pittsburgh delivered a 13-2 pounding to San Francisco, handing the Giants their fifth loss in six games, Arizona ripped the Dodgers 7-1 Sunday, sending Los Angeles to their third straight defeat.

The Diamondbacks were the biggest beneficiary of the leaders' stumbles, pulling to within four games of the first-place Dodgers and 3 1/2 games of second-place San Francisco, setting the defending division champions up as a factor in a three-team race (the two wild-card options in the NL notwithstanding).

The Dodgers still have reason to feel positive, with the expectation that they not only will soon have Matt Kemp and Andre Ethier returning to the lineup, but that they've entered the break in first place without them. San Francisco, meanwhile, is wrestling with the possibility that former ace Tim Lincecum might have to be dropped from their starting rotation altogether after a shocklingly miserable first three months. 

"The wait-and-see portion of the program is almost over," wrote Giants blogger supreme Grant Brisbee of McCovey Chronicles. "Something's broken. Maybe rest can fix it -- by this point, rest for Lincecum is the same thing as unplugging an electrical device and plugging it back in. Could work. It's worked before! Probably isn't going to work. Worth trying."

Of course, San Francisco can celebrate the fact that if the Giants are this good with Lincecum stinking up the place, think how they might be if they put his troubles on a shelf somewhere.

The Dodgers are certainly not without questions of their own, given their inconsistent-to-nonexistent production at first base, shortstop, third base and left field. Nevertheless, there is a stronger case than existed three months ago that Los Angeles is best in the division. With Kemp and Ethier around the corner, that makes the coming four-day baseball holiday much more pleasant than it might otherwise be. 

For more from Jon Weisman, visit Dodger Thoughts and follow @dodgerthoughts on Twitter.