Dodgers Lineup vs. BaltimoreCrawford DH M.Ellis 4 Kemp 8 Gonzalez 3 Ethier 9 Hernandez 2 Schumaker 7 Cruz 5 Sellers 6
Hyun-jin Ryu-2-1 vs. Jason Hammel-2-1
The Dodgers head into Baltimore at Camden Yards tonight to face the Orioles for our first taste of interleague play of the 2013 season. We are now living in Bud Selig’s world, where there are two wild cards, and 15 teams in each league. With Houston now in the American League West, there is an interleague series every week. Most teams play between 1-2 interleague series per month, and they’re now spread throughout the schedule instead of all the games being played during a two or three week span during the summer.
Of course, interleague play has never ever been fun for the Dodgers. They almost never have a winning record against the American League. They’ve been especially atrocious when playing in American League ball parks.
The Dodgers are 17-45 in American League ball parks since 2005. Last season the Dodgers were 6-9 in interleague play, which is actually better than they usually fare. This season the Dodgers will play 20 interleague games, including four games against the Yankees, (the two game series in New York), a series against Boston and Tampa Bay at home, a series in Toronto, and of course, they’re annual interleague freeway series against the Angels. The last time the Dodgers played a series in Baltimore was back in 2002. That was a long time ago, and much has changed since then.
The Dodgers are coming in trying to desperately shake themselves from this massive slump that has caused them to lose five of their last six games, and being swept by the lowly Padres at home. That was very embarrassing, and quite painful to watch. Hopefully the Dodgers have put that disgrace behind them and can focus on the task at hand, actually winning a ball game.
The problems their having with the offense is what is killing the team, and the three main problems are preventing the team from scoring runs three-fold. The first problem is getting Matt Kemp fixed. The slugger was supposed to have a day-off on Wednesday, but of course found a way to get into the game eventually. Kemp is off to a terrible start, hitting only .182 (10 for 55) with no home runs through 15 games. In comparison last season he was batting over .400 in April with 12 home runs. Bison is the team Captain and the offensive catalyst. He makes the Dodger offense go, and I have said numerous times, the Dodgers success is directly connected with the success of Matt Kemp. Let’s hope this is the night that he finally busts out of his slump.
The other problem is the Dodgers poor hitting with runners in scoring position. That has been a big headline all season long, and looks to continue to be a major storyline. The Boys in Blue are batting only .171 with RISP. But the real problem with the Dodgers offense, is something that has been quietly killing the team while sitting in the background. Nobody in the world is noticing that the team’s horrendous base running is what’s preventing the offense from scoring runs. I’ve said it before, the Dodgers are one of the slowest teams, and worst base running teams in the major leagues. The Dodgers almost never ever steal or advance extra bases. Their -1.51 HAR rating, (hitting advancement opportunities with men on base) ranks them 26 out of the 30 teams. They take negative bases, and they play station to station Baseball, which is the reason why they rank 12 in batting, and seventh in OBP but only 29 in runs scored. When you only move one base at a time on hits, you won’t score many runs. Of course, most people don’t believe or want to hear that a 200 million dollar lineup could be done in by simple base running. The fact is though, it’s an equally important aspect of the game, that if not up to specs, can really destroy a ball club’s ability to score runs. If the Dodgers want to overcome that, then they are going to have hit a lot of home runs to balance it out, or find some way to get some speed on the roster.
With the offense looking to finally rebound, the Dodgers will be sending Hyun-jin Ryu to the mound, as he continues to be tested in his first season in the big leagues. The lefty from the far east has pitched very well, winning his last start in Arizona. In that game he pitched six solid frames, whiffing nine, and collected three hits with the bat. He picked up his second win of the season in front of his family and friends. It was also the last time the Dodgers won a game. Ryu is 2-1 on the season with a 2.89 ERA. In a little over 18 innings pitched, Ryu has whiffed 20 batters and walked only three.
The Orioles will counter with right hander Jason Hammel. The Dodgers are well familiar with him from his Colorado days. Hammel-time as they call him, has had issues against the Dodgers, but back when he was pitching half of his games at Coors Field. Hammel is 2-5 with a 5.47 ERA and only 35 whiffs in 13 games against the Blue. The Dodgers are hitting .259 (36 for 139) with a .764 OPS collectively against Hammel. Andre Ethier, and Ramon Hernandez have hit him the best. Ethier is batting .348 (8 for 23) with a home run and a double against Hammel. Hernandez, is batting .474 (9 for 19) with five doubles, a triple and four RBI. I expect both of them to probably be in the starting lineup. The Dodgers have hit four home runs off of Hammel. Jerry Hairston, Kemp, and Gonzalez have all gone deep against Hammel. The right hander is 2-1 this season with a 4.34 ERA.
Remember, these games will be in an AL park, so they’ll be playing by American League rules. Thus the Dodgers will have to use the DH in all three games. Don Mattingly had previously said that he was going to probably use one of the catchers as a DH. It could be A.J. Ellis, or possibly Ramon Hernandez. The Dodgers are 7-8 on the season, while the Orioles are 8-7 third place in the A.L. East, three games back of Boston. (Update, it’s Crawford as DH tonight, while Hernandez catches.)
Let’s hope the Dodgers bust out of this annoying slump. Seriously guys, I can’t take anymore losing. It’s bad for my health. Come on Dodgers! Tune in to watch the game on Prime Ticket at 4:05 PM.
No stupid Clipper game, or Ducks game to preempt our Boys in Blue this time, Just a wonderful uninterrupted night of Dodger Baseball awaits us. Join us after the game for our nightly recap and analysis. Go Blue.