Mark Ellis 2B
A.J. Ellis C
With the season on the line, the Dodger offense has finally awaken from its long slumber and scored 16 runs in the last two games in San Diego. Matt Kemp‘s shoulder is on the mend, and Beast Mode has returned. Nick Punto has added some surprising pop to the top of the order. Adrian Gonzalez felt at home at Petco Park and played well. Luis Cruz continues to solidify his place on the team with his clutch hitting and solid defense at the hot corner. The pitchers, although weary, have really carried this low run scoring team throughout this season. With only two three-game series left to be played at Dodger Stadium, the Boys in Blue will need to win every game remaining to catch St. Louis for that final Wild Card spot.
If it wasn’t for the newly added second Wild Card spot, the Dodgers would have been eliminated from any potential postseason berth awhile ago. I am a traditionalist, and I am not a fan of the Wild Card system or the expanded playoffs in general. I must admit that without this new Wild Card slot, these final Dodger games would not be nearly as fun and nerve wracking to watch as they have been. It has given the players and fans alike a hope down the stretch. Albeit, the possibility of the Dodgers actually clinching the Wild Card spot or tying the Cardinals forcing a tiebreaker game are pretty slim. The Cardinals cannot win more than three of their final six games or the Dodgers are eliminated. The Dodgers cannot lose more than three games, or they will be eliminated. Any combination of four Cardinal wins and Dodger losses will equal the end of the line for the Dodgers. Can they pull out a miracle? If they keep hitting the way they have the past two games in San Diego, then yes there is a possibility. They will need help from Washington and Cincinnati as well. Baseball is very unpredictable. Anything can happen.
Clayton Kershawis one of the most dedicated and hard working players I have ever seen play. It may be that he is stubborn as well. Despite having a hip impingement, Kershaw refuses not to be part of his team
during these final crucial games. The physicians have okayed him to pitch with the hip problem unless pain persists. It is still unsaid whether he will need to undergo surgery this winter, but right now Clayton is only focused on the task at hand which is winning games. Last time out against Cincinnati, Kersh was noticeably rusty after not pitching for twelve days. He only allowed 1 run on 5 hits over 5 innings of work. He walked 5 batters in the no-decision, but his velocity looked good. He had a good bullpen session on Tuesday, and he assured the coaching staff that he is ready for tonight. Kershaw hasn’t been totally dominating against the Rockies in the past. He is 6-4 with a 4.13 ERA in his career against Colorado. But he has struck out 101 Rockies in 98 innings pitched.
The Rockies will counter with fellow southpaw Jeff Francis. Francis hasn’t won since the last time he faced the Dodgers ironically back on August 27th. Last time out against Arizona, Francis allowed 2 runs on 5 hits over only 4 innings. Remember, Jim Tracy likes to hook his starters after 75 pitches or so. Francis has an identical record against the Dodgers that Kersh has against the Rockies (6-4). His ERA is better (3.30). Matt Kemp has given Francis a really bad time in the past, and he’s hitting .357 with two homeruns against him.
The Rockies come into the series with a four-game winning streak. They also lead the season series with the Dodgers 8-7. The Cardinals will host the Washington Nationals at Busch Stadium at 5:15 pm Pacific Time.
First pitch will be at 7:10 pm, and it will be televised on Prime Ticket. Come back and check out our postgame recap following the game.