Dodgers Lineup:Crawford 7 M.Ellis 4 Gonzalez 3 Puig 9 Ethier 8 A.J. Ellis 2 Uribe 5 Punto 6 Greinke 1
The Dodgers finally leave Chicago, and they will have left by causing some major damage along the way. There even may be an imprint of Yasiel Puig, Hanley Ramirez, and Skip Schumaker in the side and walls of Wrigley Field after they got up close and personal with the historic ballpark. After yet another series win, a four-game sweep, the Dodgers now carry an amazing 14-game road win streak into Monday’s opener against the Red Birds. In order to continue the streak, the Dodgers will have to battle one of the toughest teams in the league. It won’t be easy. Especially after the Dodgers lost Hanley Ramirez in the seventh inning of game four on Sunday after he fell into the crowd and jammed his shoulder while making a Justin Sellers-esque catch. Hanley will have a MRI on Monday to determine the severity, but any time without HanRam in the lineup could cool this red hot Dodgers team.
Yasiel Puig has also been nursing a bruised thumb after making a sliding catch in the series. The Friendly Confines have not been so friendly towards the Dodgers. Matt Kemp suffered his original hamstring injury in Chicago last season. While Puig’s thumb injury isn’t too serious and should allow him to play in the Cardinals series, Hanley’s shoulder may sideline him longer depending on the results of the tests. The Dodgers have been winning without Matt Kemp, and if Hanley or Puig are unable to play, they will have to figure out a way to keep the momentum going through August.
Pitching is the Dodgers specialty, and the excellent pitching of late has really propelled the Dodgers to 5 1/2 games ahead in their division. Stephen Fife put in another solid spot start which allowed the Dodgers to shuffle the rotation and give their guys an extra rest day. Zack Greinke will get the ball in the opener, and the right-hander will by vying for his ninth win on the season. Greinke has struggled this season while pitching on the road. He is 3-2 with a 4.57 ERA in 8 road starts this year. The last time Greinke picked up a win was against Colorado at home back on July 13th. In his last start against the Yankees, a no decision, Greinke allowed 2 runs on 5 hits with 7 strikeouts and no walks in 7 innings of work. Overall he is 7-3 with a 3.13 ERA against the Cardinals in his career. He is 2-1 with a 2.11 ERA in 4 games pitched at Busch Stadium. Of course Greinke will have to watch out for the usual culprit who has plagued the Dodgers over the years. Matt Holliday is hitting .294 with 2 homeruns and 3 RBIs against Greinke.
The Reds will counter with 13-game winner Adam Wainwright. Wainwright will be going for a league-leading 14th victory. Last
time out in Pittsburgh, the righty allowed an uncharacteristic 4 runs on 8 hits with 6 strikeouts and a walk over 7 innings in the no decision. Wainwright goes deep into games as well, and he has at least pitched 6 innings or more in his last 10 games. Wainwright has only allowed 8 homeruns all year, and he has struck out 150 batters in 168 2/3 innings pitched. He is 3-2 with a 3.02 ERA against the Dodgers in his career. Wainwright is sixth in the league in ERA (2.61), fourth in strikeouts (150), and tied for first in wins (13). Andre Ethier has hit two homeruns against him, and Jerry Hairston Jr. has also hit a homerun against the ace.
The Cardinals have four more wins than the Dodgers, and they are in a much tougher division. They sit 1 1/2 games back of Pittsburgh and in second place. The N.L. Central will be a battle down to the wire as St. Louis, Pittsburgh, and Cincinnati all vie for that top spot. The Cubs and Milwaukee are non contenders this season. The Cards are 32-17 at home this year, but the Dodgers definitely could make push come to shove in the series as they take their excellent roadie skills into the mix. They are 30-24 on the road, and have won 4 games in a row while not losing a series since June in Pittsburgh.
Can this miracle run keep going or will it eventually fizz out? The Cardinals are a very good team, but Yadier Molina has also been hurt with a knee injury. The Dodgers will need another good start from Greinke. Once the Dodger get the game to Kenley Jansen, he has become almost unhittable. He is the first Dodger reliever to retire 25 in a row since Chin-Hui Tsao in 2007 according to the Dodgers PR department. Amazing!
The game has been picked up by ESPN, so if you are a Time Warner Cable customer without access to KCAL you will be able to watch the game on ESPN at 4:05 p.m.