The Dodgers will open up their second half of the 2013 season in Washington D.C. to take on the Nationals for a three game set before venturing up north to Canada to play the Toronto Blue Jays at Rogers Centre for three games. The Dodgers went their separate ways during the All-Star break, and hopefully most enjoyed the time off by relaxing and readying for the second leg of the season. While Hanley Ramirez was basking in the sun in Cabo San Lucas with his family, Yasiel Puig was garnering attention from the media by partying with celebrities at the Playboy Mansion and making an appearance on the ESPYS Awards show. Clayton Kershaw was busy making Dodger fans proud by representing the Blue by pitching a perfect inning in the All-Star game, and hopefully the rest of the squad were unwinding at home in order to be ready to go for Friday’s game.
47-47 and 2 1/2 games back. That’s where the Dodgers sit as they look to make a run for first place in the National League West. Injuries have decimated this talented team, and the key to the second half will be their ability to stay healthy. Matt Kemp is reportedly ready to return on Sunday after suffering some irritation in his AC joint of his surgically repaired shoulder, and Carl Crawford and Mark Ellis have been battling rustiness and injury throughout the season. Even young superstar Yasiel Puig was playing through a sore hip. The Dodgers offense will have to ramp it up in the second half. Although the offense was looking a whole lot better recently, there was some regression with the bats during the series split with Colorado where they only scored two runs in the final three games of the set.
Ricky Nolasco will take the mound in Washington for the Dodgers, and Clayton Kershaw will deservedly get a bit of extra rest. Nolasco shined in his Dodger debut in Arizona, but his last time out against Colorado was lackluster and led to a loss for the right-hander. Nolasco may have been nervous in his Dodger Stadium debut while pitching in front of many friends and family members. Nolasco allowed 3 runs on 8 hits with 4 strikeouts and 3 walks in 5 innings. Rickey is 1-1 with a 3.00 ERA as a Dodger thus far. In his career against the Nationals, he is 11-7 with a 3.66 ERA. He’ll have to watch out for Adam LaRoche who is hitting over .300 with 5 RBIs against Nolasco and Ryan Zimmerman who is hitting .303 with 3 homeruns and 4 RBIs against him. At Nationals Park, Nolasco is 4-2 with a 2.32 ERA in 7 starts.
The Dodgers will have their work cut out for them as they face right-hander Stephen Strasburg. In his 12 innings pitched against
the Dodgers, he has a 0.75 ERA against them with 13 strikeouts. Strasburg did pick up a loss in his last start against Miami where he allowed an uncharacteristic 7 runs on 5 hits with 2 strikeouts and 4 walks in just 2 innings. That disastrous outing was the shortest of his career.
The Nationals are 48-47 and have lost five of their last seven games. They sit 6 games back in second place behind a very good Atlanta team in the National League East. The Dodgers hope that Bryce Harper, who made it to the final round of the Homerun Derby, will be a bit tuckered out from hitting 24 homeruns during the contest.
Jerry Hairston Jr. will also get to play against brother Scott who was recently traded to the Nationals from the Chicago Cubs. Scott is hitting just .178 with 8 homeruns and 19 RBIs in 56 games played. Older brother Jerry is hitting .258 with 1 homerun and 12 RBIs in 54 games.
The 4:05 p.m. game will air on Prime Ticket. Thank you for reading and supporting us this season. We will continue to document every Dodger game in 2013 and beyond. Here’s to a great second half!