A.J. Ellis C
M. Ellis 2B
After a walk-off loss in game two versus the Reds Saturday morning, the Dodgers have now lost three in a row. This is the first time the team has lost three consecutive games since June 8-10. Arizona defeated the Giants, so they gain a game in the standings and are now 11 games behind the Dodgers. The Dodgers *Magic number still stands at 11*. Even though the Dodgers seem to be dragging their feet a bit, we can enjoy the fact that they are still well ahead in the division. The Giants also will soon be eliminated as early as tomorrow. So there’s always that. The Reds are playing for their postseason livelihood, and they are now 1 1/2 games back of St. Louis who took over first place in the Central. Pittsburgh is 1/2 game out now.
The Dodgers offense and pitching has been sputtering of late. Perhaps it’s the long grueling grind of the season finally catching up with the Boys in
Blue, or perhaps the Reds are just really good. Either way, the Dodgers will need to pick things up and push on in order to clinch this division title and forge ahead to October. Right now they do have some wiggle room to work with, but they will need to regain that hot momentum at the right time in the postseason in order not to be knocked out quickly. Don Mattingly really needs to think about giving some rest to Paco Rodriguez and Ronald Belisario in the bullpen who have pitched 69 and 68 games. Paco has looked tuckered out and not himself during his relief outings on Friday and Saturday. I was a bit shocked to see Mattingly bring him into Saturday’s game. We will need Beli and Paco in the playoffs, and if it means using Peter Moylan, Carlos Marmol, or even *gasp* Brandon League more to spell some (no pun intended) relief for those two then so be it.
Clayton Kershaw will be going for his 15th win of the season on Sunday at the Great American Ballpark. Kersh hasn’t looked the sharpest in his last two starts, and once again could be due to late-season fatigue understandably. Last time out in Colorado, Kershaw picked up the victory but he allowed a season-high 11 hits and an uncharacteristic 5 earned runs while striking out 4 and walking one. Even though he allowed those 5 runs last in his previous start, his ERA remains below 2.00 at 1.89 which still is best in the league. The southpaw has already reached the 200 strikeout mark (201) which is also tops in the N.L. Against the Reds, Kershaw is 2-1 with a 2.81 ERA in his career. He has made 4 starts in Cincinnati in the past, and he is 1-0 with a 3.46 ERA in those starts. Kersh has not faced Cincinnati this season. Of course he’ll have to be careful around Joey Votto who has hit two homeruns against Kershaw (in 2010 and 2011).
The Reds will be going for the three-game sweep, and they will send right-hander Homer Bailey to the mound. Bailey, who pitched a no-hitter earlier in the season against the Giants, is coming off of consecutive scoreless outings versus the Cardinals. In his last start, Bailey held the Red Birds to 2 hits over 7 innings with 8 strikeouts and one walk. The Dodgers faced Bailey once already this season back on July 26th at Dodger Stadium. Bailey lost after allowing 2 runs on 7 hits in 7 innings of work. The 27-year old is 3-3 with a 4.23 ERA against the Dodgers over his career. Hanley Ramirez went deep against Bailey last time the Dodgers saw him, and Adrian Gonzalez has five homeruns against Bailey including two as a Dodger last season. Jerry Hairston Jr. and Juan Uribe both have hit a homerun against Bailey as well.
Can the Dodgers break out on Sunday in the series finale before returning home? The Dodgers could still put pressure on Atlanta for the top seed in the league which would translate to more potential postseason games at home. There’s no reason to slow down now. Momentum is so important.
Tune into ESPN on Sunday at 5:05 p.m. for the series finale. The Dodgers then return home on Monday for an important homestand which includes three games against the D-backs and four games versus the Giants.