Dodgers Lineup vs. Reds-fourth of JulyGordon 6 Cruz 5 Abreu 7 Loney 3 Kennedy 4 Van Slyke 9 Herrera 8 Treanor 2 Harang 1
*Update-Mark Ellis activated, Ethier placed on DL. Ethier expected to return on July 13*
With a win tonight, the Dodgers can take back over what has been rightfully theirs, all season long….FIRST PLACE. Yes the Giants lost today at Washington, and the Dodgers start the night in a virtual tie with the Giants for first place in the NL West. We wonder tonight who the next hero will be, as the Dodgers take on the Reds in the rubber game of the three game series, and final home game before the all-star break. After the game, the Dodgers will travel to Arizona, for a four game series that leads up to the all-star break.
The Dodgers are of course just trying to survive until their regulars come back from injury. Matt Kemp, and Javy Guerra, are both rehabbing in Rancho Cucamonga, and are both scheduled to return right after the all-star break on July 13. Mark Ellis is scheduled to return tomorrow, and there were rumors he would be available today. If you remember Mark was injured on a take-out slide at second base, as he collided with base-runner Tyler Greene. Mark had to have an emergency surgery to relieve swelling and fluids from his knee, and it looked like he might need additional surgeries, or be out until at least August. Mark could have lost his leg, had not Dodger’s head trainer, Sue Falsone, noticed his swollen knee, and ordered he be taken to the hospital immediately. Thank god for Sue! Mark healed faster than anyone had expected and is ready to jump back in tomorrow. The little second baseman, and the Dodger’s number two hitter’s skills are irreplaceable. The skilled and versatile second baseman, is tops defensively, and was hitting .273, with a .373 OBP before his injury. His skills are so important to the success of the Dodgers this season. Jerry Hairston, and Elian Herrera filed in admirably, but both will likely transition back to the bench as Mark takes back the keystone.
Tonight, the Reds who are now amazingly tied for first place as well with the Pirates, will give the ball to Mike Leake. I know crazy right? Mike Leake, the Red’s right hander is 1-1 against the Dodgers with a 7.13 ERA. That is good news for the Dodgers. However the bad news for the Dodgers, is that he has been steadily improving since a poor start this season. In April, Leake was 0-3 with a 6.65 ERA. In May, he improved to 1-2 with a 4.55 ERA, and in June, he is red-hot, posting a 2-0 record, and a 2.55 ERA in June. Let’s hope that comes to an end tonight. The Dodgers are hitting .310 (10 for 27), off of the 24 year old right hander. Andre Ethier is 5 for 9 (.556) with two home runs, against Leake, but of course he is hurt. James Loney is 2 for 6, and Juan Uribe is 3 for 4 with the other home run against Leake, but he is still nursing a sore ankle, and wont be in the lineup again tonight. Not that any of us mind that of course. Against the league overall, Leake is 3-5, with a 4.12 ERA, and 61 whiffs.
The Dodgers will counter with Aaron Harang. The big righty will be making his first start against his former team. Remember Harang pitched for the Reds, and was a mainstay in their rotation for eight years. He won 75 games for the Reds, during his tenure there, and this season is 5-5 with a 3.68 ERA. Yes at times, Harang has pitched very decently, and has 73 whiffs, for a 7.1 whiff per nine rate. He even whiffed nine consecutive batters in one start earlier this season, to break the all time Dodger record one set by Johnny Podres. Overall the Reds are hitting .306, (22 for 72) off of Harang, but it’s all done by one guy, and no it’s not who you think it is. Nope it’s not Joey Votto that does all the damage against Harang, it’s Ryan Ludwick for whatever reason. Ludwick has hit all three home runs off of Harang, and is hitting .424 (14 for 33) with nine RBIs against Harang. No one else has seen him, or done much of anything off of the big right hander. So please watch out for Ludwick, and of course we always must watch out for Joey Votto.
Who will be the new hero tonight? Last night that was newcomer Luis Cruz, who drove in the eventual winning run with his RBI double into the gap, and then stole home for the third run, on what was supposed to be a squeeze play, but ended up being a wild pitch.
Mark Ellis has been activated but is not starting, but he is expected to be for tomorrow’s game at Arizona. In the meantime, Ethier has been placed on the DL, and Van Slyke is starting in right field. Last night’s hero Luis Cruz bats second and plays third base again. I am still not sure why the Dodgers are continuing to play with a short bench. It doesn’t make much sense. Not sure what Mattingly is doing here, and Loney bats cleanup. The Dodgers have lost the last four series, so we really need a win tonight.
Oh and that weirdo Carlos Lee, is being traded to the Marlins. I guess he doesn’t mind playing for a fourth plate team. The fish are giving up two prospects for him. The trade has yet to be announced, but is close to being completed.
Tonight’s game is on at 6PM, and televised on Prime Ticket. We want to wish everyone a safe and happy fourth of July! Join us after the game for our nightly Dodger game recap. Hopefully we will see some Blue fireworks on and off the field tonight. Go Blue! Go America!