It didn't start that way. Billingsley's first start against an NL West foe came on April 14 against Arizona and he gave up six runs in less than six innings. But since then, take a look at what's happened...
5/10 Arizona 5.1 IP, 2 ER
5/16 San Diego 7.1 IP, 0 ER
5/31 Arizona 8 IP, 4 ER
6/28 San Francisco 6 IP, 2 ER
7/4 Arizona 6 IP, 1 ER
7/21 San Francisco 9 IP, 0 ER
7/27 San Diego 6 IP, 0 ER
Including that rough opening start that adds up to 5-0 with three no-decisions and a 2.36 ERA. If we give him a mulligan on his first start (which he did get a win on in a slugfest), the numbers are 4-0 with a dazzling 1.52 ERA. When it comes contract time, Billingsley's agent should surely argue that his man is worth more than the surface numbers suggest because of the way he handles his own division. And if his agent should read this and wasn't already aware of this fact, please send me a percentage.
San Francisco and Philadelphia kept rolling. The Giants got three hits at the top of the lineup from Andres Torres and beat Florida 6-3. Philadelphia rolled over Arizona 9-5 and with Atlanta faltering last night, the Phils have crept back to within 3 ½ of the NL East lead. The longer Philly hangs, the closer Chase Utley's return at the end of August comes.
Boston got a big win from John Lackey last night, as he won his return to Anaheim 4-2. Lackey was surprised at all the boos he got, but I'm not sure what he was expecting. I understand that he played out his contract and gave the Angels everything he had during his tenure. Based on that same logic, as a Red Sox fan, I could never work up any real animosity for Johnny Damon when he left for the Bronx. But I was in a minority, and Damon was roundly booed when he came back to Fenway. And consider this--would sports really be better off if fans ceased to be fans and thought like businesspeople? Not really. I think the $82.5 million Lackey's getting from the Red Sox will console any hurt feelings.
Photo from SI.com