Howard Smith-US PRESSWIRE

Can the Dodgers Stay Hot in the Sweltering Heat of St.Louis?


Dodgers Lineup vs. Cardinals

Abreu 7

M.Ellis 4

Kemp 8

Ethier 9

Rivera 3

Kennedy 5

Cruz 6

Ellis 2

Billingsley 1

 

Chad Billingsley-4-9 vs. Joe Kelly-1-2

 

The schedule makers have decided to pit the Dodgers and the defending World Series Champion St. Louis Cardinals against each other 11 times this season. The Dodgers play the Redbirds two series at Dodger Stadium, and this four game set at Busch Stadium. Maybe that’s a good thing for the boys in blue, considering they have beaten the Cardinals the last seven games in a row, and seven of the last ten, dating back to April of 2011. If you remember, the Dodgers swept the last series in St. Louis, last August, and swept the Cardinals, earlier this season at Dodger Stadium. The Boys in Blue will fly into the sweltering equator like heat of the midwest for a four game series before they head to San Francisco to finish the trip.

Before last season’s sweep, the Dodgers had only won four games in St.Louis (not counting the playoffs), over the last six years. Tonight the Dodgers come into town with a four game winning streak, after just having swept the Mets, and have started this ten game road-trip with three wins in a row. However they will have to face a hot hitting Cardinal team that is also coming off a sweep of their own against the Cubs.

Tonight the Dodgers will give the ball to Chad Billingsley who is making his first start since his brief disabled list stint. Bills has been win-less over his last five starts, and put up an ERA north of 6.00 during the losing streak. I originally thought it was poor pitch selection and a reliance on secondary pitches that was the problem with Bills, but maybe it was also his sore elbow which put him on the DL for a couple of weeks. Whatever the reason, whether it be poor pitch selection or a sore elbow, his ERA has risen from 3.57 to 4.30 since he last won a game on June 10.

Bills is 4-9 on the season with a 4.30 ERA, 100 whiffs, and an 8.6 whiff per nine rate, which is pretty good. His walk rate isn’t terrible either at 2.9 per nine. SO if he is whiffing a lot of batters, and not walking too many, that it just means he is giving up way too many hits. Probably during his meltdown innings.  Further look at his numbers suggests that is true, as he has allowed 113 hits, in 104 innings, and a 9.7 hits per nine rate, which means he is just around the plate too much. Bills against the Cardinals has a 1-3 record, and a 4.68 ERA, but has pitched much better than those numbers indicate.

Bills has held the current Cardinals to a .252 (27 for 107) average against and only three home runs, 16 RBI. Carlos Beltran is only 2 for 12 against Bills, (.167) Skip Schumaker is 3 for 15 (.233) with a triple. Lance Berkman is only hitting .111, ( 2 for 18) off of Bills.

Bill s has to watch for two guys that have given him a hard time over the years. Yadier Molina is 6 for 17 (.353), and resident bad guy and Dodger killer, Matt Holiday is .320, (8 for 25) with three home runs, and ten walks. Holiday is hitting .440 with six home run in his last 30 games. The Dodger’s manager Don Mattingly has said that Billingsley will not be on a pitch count tonight. Oy.

Jeff Curry-US PRESSWIRE

The Cardinals will counter with rookie right hander Joe Kelly. The local boy from Southern California has pitched well in his first season in the big leagues. Kelly has a 1-2 record, and a 2.75 ERA. Actually the 24 year old rookie has yet to allow more than three runs in any of his seven starts, and has pitched five quality starts in a row. In his last start against Milwaukee, Kelly pitched six strong frame, allowing three runs, only two were earned on six hits, one walk, and four whiffs. However the rookie doesn’t strike out a lot of batters, only a 2-1 strikeout to walk ratio, and 41 hits allowed.

The Cardinals find themselves in third place in the NL Central with a 50-45 record, five games behind the Reds. The Dodgers are 52-44 and trail the Giants by only a game and a half in the NL West.

Game time tonight is at 5:15PM on Prime Ticket. Don’t forget to tune in after the game to another episode of the Lasorda’s Lair Podcast called Dishing Up the Dodgers. Tonight’s Podcast will be with recurring guest, Dodger writer David Krell. We will be discussing the Hall of fame, David’s trip to the negro league conference, and the Dodger’s pennant race chances.  You can listen in tonight at 8:30PM pacific time here http://www.blogtalkradio.com/dishing-up-the-dodgers1/2012/07/24/dishing-up-the-dodgers

The weather in St. Louis is supposed to be in the 100’s. The forecast is calling for the typical Midwest humidity. It’s going to be hot out there, but will the Dodger’s bats heat up with the Summer swoon? Let’s hope so. The Boys in Blue will look for their fifth win in a row tonight. Can the Dodgers stay hot? Literally and figuratively? Tune into Lasorda’s Lair after the game for our Nightly Dodger recap to find out. Go Blue.

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Tags: A.J. Ellis Andre Ethier Bobby Abreu Chad Billingsley Dodgers Don Mattingly James Loney Jerry Hairston Jr. Juan Rivera Juan Uribe Luis Cruz Mark Ellis Matt Kemp Tony Gwynn Jr.