M. Ellis 2B
A.J. Ellis C
Matt Kemp has finally started to feel better, and his late-inning clutch hitting has given the Dodgers hope. With eleven games remaining for the Dodgers in the regular season, every game is do or die. The Boys in Blue would need an epic comeback of 2011 St. Louis proportions to try to gain the momentum needed to capture that second Wild Card slot. The Cardinals have held on to that coveted yet new spot for awhile, but the Dodgers, Phillies, and Brewers are still alive. Milwaukee might be the late season surging victor since they have been playing well and have Ryan Braun and a refocused bullpen behind them. The Dodgers also have a very strong bullpen. With Kenley Jansen back, the Dodgers have a wicked progression of relievers with Jansen, Ronald Belisario, and the retooled Brandon League. Clayton Kershaw pitched off the mound yesterday, and he reported that he didn’t feel any pain. The Dodgers are still keeping the door open for him to pitch on Sunday. You can bet that if the Dodgers win today, Kershaw will most likely get the start in game three.
If Kersh does not pitch on Sunday, the Dodgers will send Aaron Harang to the mound on short rest. Although that is not the optimum choice, the only other option is to start John Ely. Shane Victorino sat out Friday night’s game with a sore wrist. He hurt his wrist after hitting the wall in Washington D.C. in the fourth inning Thursday night. Juan Rivera started in left field in his place. Victorino is day-to-day.
Stephen Fife will go to the mound today in his second start since being called back up this September and his fifth start overall as a rookie Dodger. He’s still looking for that elusive first career victory. Last time out, Fife had a troubled first inning at Dodger Stadium versus the Cardinals. He said that he felt “amped up.” You can’t blame the kid for having butterflies, after all it’s his first time pitching in a pennant race in the big leagues. He allowed 2 runs on 4 hits, but he did strike out 9 Red Birds after he settled down. He’s only allowed 6 total earned runs in his 21 2/3 innings pitched and has only allowed one homerun. Fife will be thrown back out into the fire, and he’ll have to keep calm as he battles the first-place playoff-bound Reds.
The Reds hope that Mat Latos can lead them to a post-game division clinching celebration tonight. Latos will be vying for his thirteenth win of the season in this his 31st start. He has 171 strikeouts in 189 1/3
innings pitched this season. Last time out in Miami, he wasn’t involved in the decision. He allowed 4 runs on 7 hits over 7 2/3 innings while striking out 8 Fish. In his career against the Dodgers, Latos is 1-6 with a 2.91 ERA.
First pitch is at 1:05 pm, and it will be nationally televised on FOX. Stay tuned for our signature recap after the game.
September baseball is not for the weak-hearted. Climatic come-from-behind wins, grand winning streaks, and heart breaking collapses are all part and parcel. As fans, we have ridden this rollercoaster of a season through the many loops and turns it’s made. Now we come to the final push, and we must continue to believe that miracles can happen. If at any time we lose sight of our goal, we must remember ’88. The improbable and the impossible can happen again.