Van Slyke RF
After sweeping a six-game home stand and only losing one game on their prior road trip, the Dodgers had a much-deserved off day or travel day on Thursday. With a 70-50 record, the never-say-die Dodgers will begin a East Coast jaunt which will begin in Philadelphia on Friday. While the Dodgers lead the N.L. West by 7 1/2 games, the Phillies are well behind the Atlanta Braves in the Eastern division and 20 1/2 games back in fourth place. While almost certainly out of the running for any postseason chance this year, the Phillies would love to give the Dodgers a hard time and stop them in their tracks. The Dodgers took three of the four games against the Phillies earlier in June at Dodger Stadium, but the one loss was the horrific 16-1 drubbing on June 28th. The Dodgers are playing out of their minds right now, and they will be vying for their ninth consecutive win. They now have the third best record in the National League behind Pittsburgh and Atlanta which seem to be their biggest contenders in the league.
The amazing Boys in Blue have only lost three games since the All-Star Break during their historic run. Wednesday’s epic come-
from-behind win against the Mets was one of the most exciting Dodger games that I can remember. Andre Ethier‘s beautiful pinch-hit opposite field game tying homerun in the ninth inning was a rare and magnificent feat. Dre has been so reliable this year, and he has filled in by playing center field in 50 games and in 115 games overall this season for the Dodgers. While Carl Crawford and Matt Kemp have both been consistently rusty in 2013, Andre Ethier has been able to play all over the outfield wherever Don Mattingly has needed him. His power numbers may be down this year, but you have to remember that most of the Dodger offense was stagnant through the first two months of the season. Ethier and Mattingly even butted heads during the lowest point of the season, but both men have come out the other side fighting to turn this team around. While Ethier hasn’t been in 2009 form, the long-tenured Dodger still has one of the prettiest left-handed swings in the game.
Zack Greinke will get the ball for game number one at Citizens Bank Park. Greinke, although brilliant at times, has been inconsistent. Yet the right-hander has won his last two starts, and he pitched 6 1/3 innings of shutout ball against Tampa Bay in his last start. Greinke struck out 7 Rays and allowed 6 hits while walking one for his tenth victory. Greinke has pitched better at home this season, and he is 4-2 with a 4.35 ERA over 9 road starts. Against the Phillies, Zack is 1-0 with a 5.14 ERA in one start against the Phillies this season back on June 27th at Dodger Stadium. He allowed a homerun to Domonic Brown and one to Chase Utley in that game. Overall in his career, he is 2-1 with a 3.27 ERA against Philadelphia, and he has made two starts at Citizens Bank Park where he holds a 2.77 ERA in 13 innings pitched. He has allowed 2 homeruns to the Phillies in that 13 innings of work in the City of Brotherly Love.
The Phillies will counter with notorious Dodger killer Cliff Lee. Although Lee is still one of the best pitchers in the league, he has been struggling of late and is 1-3 with a 5.64 ERA over his last 5 starts which is uncharacteristic for the southpaw. In fact Cliff Lee hasn’t won a game since July 5th versus Atlanta. Last time out in Washington, the left-hander allowed 3 runs on 7 hits with 6 strikeouts and 2 walks over 6 innings in the no-decision. The Dodgers already faced Lee once back on June 29th at Dodger Stadium when they got to him for 3 runs on 4 hits over 7 innings. Lee did strikeout 10 Dodgers in that game and walked three, but he wasn’t involved in the decision. Lee has for the most part dominated the Dodgers over his career, and he is 2-1 with a 1.40 ERA against Los Angeles overall.
The Dodgers will most likely add Brian Wilson a.k.a. The Beard to the roster on
Friday. The black bearded ex-Giant hasn’t pitched in the Majors since April 2012 before succumbing to Tommy John Surgery. The right-hander has pitched 4 1/3 innings of scoreless ball in 4 appearances (1 game for Rancho Cucamonga and 3 games for Albuquerque) during his rehab stint for the Dodgers. He only allowed one hit. While he certainly will not take the place of the incredible Kenley Jansen who has cemented his rightful place as the Dodgers closer, Wilson could be very effective to set Jansen up in later innings.
Tune into Prime Ticket for the 4:05 p.m. game. You do not want to miss a moment of this historic Dodger season. Go Blue!