The two best teams in the National League West kick off a three-game series as the Dodgers travel to Arizona on Monday. The last time these two clubs met, baseball took a back seat to a fist-throwing brawl.
Five players were hit by pitches, six were ejected and five were suspended following a wild game in Los Angeles on June 11. This time around should be far less dramatic.
"We're not going to start anything up," said Dodgers manager Don Mattingly. "This is the same thing as San Diego. We can't afford to be losing players, they can't afford to be losing players. I really don't expect anything. I expect baseball. They'll protect their guys, we'll protect our guys. But I don't think either team will start anything. There won't be a carryover for us to feel we have to do something."
Ian Kennedy, who starts Tuesday for the D-backs, got the brawl started when he plunked Yasiel Puig in the nose with a 92 mph fastball. Zack Greinke, who will start for the Dodgers on Monday, retaliated by drilling catcher Miguel Montero in the back the following inning. Both sides were warned, but Kennedy disregarded the umpire's caution and went after the opposing pitcher, nailing Greinke in the shoulder the very next inning. Kennedy was immediately ejected along with manager Kirk Gibson.
"I wanted to throw inside just kind of to send a message but not to hit the guy, and it just kind of got away from me a little bit," Kennedy said afterward. "I was really just trying to go inside because I didn't think it was right what he did to Miggy."
Said Mattingly: "If you can't pitch inside without hitting the guy in the head, you shouldn't pitch inside. I thought it was B.S."
Kennedy has since served a 10-game suspension, while Gibson served his one-game suspension.
Mattingly served one game and reliever Ronald Belisario was suspended for one, while J.P. Howell and Skip Schumaker were suspended for two, though Schumaker is still awaiting word following an appeal.
Of greater concern for these two teams Monday will be the tight race in the NL West. The D-backs, the only team in the division with a winning record, have won five in a row and hold a 4 1/2-game lead over the second-place Dodgers.
Greinke will look to get it going for the Dodgers, though he's thrown just one quality start in four times out since the brawl. He was in rare form his last start against Colorado, walking seven batters in five innings while allowing five earned runs.
The first-year Dodger is still struggling to find momentum this season, entering the game with a 4.30 ERA and .289 batting average against.
Through his first four starts with the D-backs, Randall Delgado is looking like a prize in the trade that sent Justin Upton to Atlanta this offseason.
Delgado, 23, has yet to allow more than three earned runs in a game this season and is coming off a dominating performance against the Mets in which he allowed just two runs over seven innings while striking out nine. He has 25 strikeouts to four walks in 27 innings with the D-backs, posting a 3.67 ERA.
"We saw him last year in Atlanta," Mets manager Terry Collins said after Delgado's last start. "Always had a good arm. This is the best I've seen him pitch. Pounded the zone with strikes. Great changeup, that's something we really haven't seen a lot of."
Dodgers: Kemp expected to return
Matt Kemp was held out of Sunday's lineup against the Giants because of a sore left shoulder, but Mattingly believes the outfielder should be back Monday.
Kemp left Friday night's 10-2 win over San Francisco after feeling pain in his acromioclavicular joint on a swing in the second inning. He didn't play over the weekend after receiving a cortisone injection Friday night.
D-backs: Hill providing boost
Aaron Hill has been a doubles machine since returning from a broken hand on June 25. He hit two more Sunday and has six doubles in his last 13 games.
The second baseman is hitting .326 (15-for-46) since his return and .317 overall on the season.
• Newly acquired pitcher Ricky Nolasco will get the starting nod for the Dodgers on Tuesday. Chris Capuano will move to the bullpen.
• After shutting out the Rockies over eight innings Friday, 21-year-old Tyler Skaggs will get another start for Arizona on Wednesday. Skaggs is rated the team's No. 1 prospect, according to MLB.com.