The 2023 Arizona Diamondbacks' surprisingly inspired chase at a playoff berth began with the Dodgers in Week 1, when they proved they could hang. Remember the Michael Grove game? You wish you didn't, but you do.
Unfortunately, those early-season "prove it" games were really the Dodgers' last chance to put any distance between themselves and their upstart competitors.
While the Dodgers whomped Arizona in LA's home opener and mixed in a 10-1 blowout victory in that opening series, the D-Backs held their own, foisting a split on their newly-minted rivals. Down in the desert the next week, the Dodgers spoiled Arizona's home opener, but swift revenge for the Snakes followed, as they captured the next three games to finish the opening eight-game salvo with a 5-3 record.
And, thanks to MLB's new "balanced schedule" ... that's gonna be it for a while.
The Dodgers have managed to separate themselves from the field (read: the Padres) a bit lately, but they haven't been able to shake off their surprising adversaries, who sport the only other positive run differential in the NL West. And, if the Diamondbacks fall off the pace, it won't be the Dodgers' doing -- the two teams don't play again until a two-game set at the start of August, followed by a Dodger Stadium series at the end of the month.
MLB Standings: Dodgers barely control their fate against Diamondbacks
On the flip side, there are plenty of remaining opportunities for the Dodgers to semi-bury the Pads; starting with a weekend series at Chavez Ravine, Los Angeles still has August and September sets on the slate against the 2023 MLB Offseason Champions.
It's quite likely they won't have a "Crying Juan Soto" meme prepared for the Dodger Stadium scoreboard, but the competition should still be intense.
As for Arizona, the Dodgers will have to trust things eventually even out and the D-Backs d-scend to a more appropriate level of mediocrity against the rest of the league. 2024? Watch out for the Snakes. 2023? Hopefully, they're not quite ready for primetime yet.