Dodgers Lineup:Schumaker 7 Puig 9 Gonzalez 3 Hanley 6 Ethier 8 A.J. Ellis 2 M.Ellis 4 Uribe 5 Kershaw 1
The Dodgers continue their sizzling hot streak and are on their way to claim what is rightfully theirs: first place. The Boys in Blue will go for their sixth consecutive win tonight against Colorado, and they are locked and loaded behind their ace pitcher Clayton Kershaw. The Rockies aren’t horrible per say, but they really don’t stand much of a chance with Kershaw pitching and their clicking offense fueled by Hanley Ramirez and Yasiel Puig. The Dodgers are becoming the hated team amongst the media right now, and Puig has been the target of hateful and untrue media spin. The kid is living his dream, and he had to risk his life to do so. Let him enjoy his time in the spotlight without such negativity and hate. Every player was a rookie at one time, and it’s not Puig’s fault that he is a damn good one to boot.
The Dodgers bullpen (besides Brandon League) has been turning things around as well. The Dodgers finally got rid of Matt Guerrier, and they added young arms like Jose Dominguez and Chris Withrow. Withrow impressed on Wednesday night by pitching three scoreless innings of relief in the 14-inning win, and he should slot nicely within the bullpen as a long reliever. Ronald Belisario is really beginning to pitch like the Beli of old, and his sinker is just plain nasty when it’s on point. Overall, the Dodgers are playing much better baseball, and when that happens winning happens. The challenge will be maintaining the flow of victories through the All-Star break and beyond.
Clayton Kershaw will be vying for his ninth win of the season Friday night, and the southpaw is dominant at home. Kersh is 5-3 with a 1.60 ERA over his 10 home starts this year. Kersh has gone deep into the game over his last three starts winning each of them. Last time out in San Francisco, Kersh pitched 8 innings of one-run ball only allowing 3 hits to the Giants while striking out 3 and walking one. Kersh beat the Rockies at home on July 2nd when he pitched a four-hit complete game shutout with no walks and eight strikeouts. He will look to repeat that dominance over the Rox tonight at Dodger Stadium. Kershaw has already racked up 129 strikeouts in 138 1/3 innings pitched, and he is second to Matt Harvey in the N.L. who has 147 whiffs. Kershaw’s 1.89 ERA and WHIP (0.90) is best in the league. Clayton is 8-4 with a 3.54 in his career against the Rockies, but of course he’ll have to watch for the usual culprits of CarGo and Helton who have hit homeruns against Kersh in the past. He hasn’t lost to the Rockies since April 5, 2011.
The Rockies will counter with right-hander Juan Nicasio who is just returning from spending some time in AAA-Colorado
Springs. His last Major League start was on June 25th against Boston when he lost after a disastrous start where he allowed 6 runs on 12 hits in just 2 1/3 innings. Nicasio is 1-2 with a 5.22 ERA in his career against Los Angeles. Andre Ethier, who will be in the starting lineup, has absolutely clobbered Nicasio to a tune of .636 with a homerun and 4 RBIs.
The Dodgers will need a little help from the Milwaukee Brewers who lost to the Arizona D-backs on Thursday night. With a Dodger win and a AZ loss, the Dodgers could be within 1/2 game of first. The Dodgers are the hottest team in baseball right now, and they have won 17 of their last 20 games giving them a winning record for the first time since April 15th.
Yasiel Puig is nursing his aggravated hip after it flared up in Thursday’s game. He’s still feeling the effects of hitting the Coors Field outfield wall. He’s listed day-to-day, and I wouldn’t oppose a day off for the Cuban slugger.
Prime Ticket will air the game at 7:10 p.m. Let us know if you think the Dodgers can move into first place before the All-Star break. What has been the most important factor in their turnaround?