PHOENIX – In their first three games of the season, the Arizona Diamondbacks watched their energy level on the diamond dip as progressively as the attendance and the passion in the stands at Chase Field.
They opened with a crescendo against the Rockies, bashing five home runs in a wild win before a sellout crowd of 48,799, only to lose two uninspiring efforts in front of drastically quieter, dwindling crowds of 26,637 and 18,227.
A three-day visit by the Dodgers, starting Friday night, should help to liven up everything.
There have been battles with the Giants and Padres, that postseason loss to the Rockies two years ago and all the previous dust-ups the Diamondbacks have had with all three of those division foes.
When it comes to real rivalries for the Diamondbacks in the National League West, it’s the Dodgers who always seem to draw the most electricity, intensity and the biggest crowds.
It will never be as big as the century-plus rivalry between the Dodgers and Giants, but it is growing and gaining relevance.
“You’re not going to have a rivalry between fourth- and fifth-place teams in the division,” Diamondbacks pitcher Dan Haren said. “You need two good teams and we both are. It’s not to say we don’t like each other, but every game is just a little more intense than maybe a series like we just played (against Colorado).
“The energy gets pumped up a little more. For us, going to a place like L.A. is always a hostile environment and they usually bring a lot of fans here and they’re pretty rowdy. Plus, the games usually are always close and low scoring.”
Things peaked last season, when the Dodgers rallied late in the year to overtake the Diamondbacks and win the division title by two games. The Dodgers won seven of the final eight regular-season meetings with the Diamondbacks to help do it.
“There’s always going to be the Dodgers-Giants rivalry,” Arizona manager Bob Melvin said, “but I think each and every year, whoever’s at the top in the West would be considered the most attractive rivalry.”