After sweeping the Diamondbacks in spectacular homerun hitting fashion at Chase Field, the Dodgers return to California to complete their road trip with a three-game set in Frisco. The Giants already embarrassed the Dodgers by winning two of three during Opening Day weekend in Los Angeles, and now the Dodgers would like to return the favor by winning this series in the Bay. The Dodgers were fueled by epic homeruns and extra base hits during the Arizona series, and this blast of offense helped counter balance the less than stellar starting pitching.
The Dodgers will be in enemy territory this year for Jackie Robinson Day, but the celebration of Jackie should require no home field advantage in order to pay remembrance to one of the most inspirational baseball players and American historical figures. The Dodgers/Giants rivalry should be paused for the evening so we may honor a man who brought progression to the sport in the midst of indifference and ignorance. Jackie’s legacy will be forever enshrined within the retired 42 jersey number. With Mariano Rivera‘s retirement came the final contemporary Major Leaguer to don the sacred number.
Jackie would no doubt be very pleased to see the Dodgers sitting in first place in the N.L. West, and perhaps the Dodger lineup on Tuesday night can channel some of his vivacity in order to gain a victory. Although it will be strange to see, the Giants will be wearing number 42 on their jerseys as well Tuesday. For one night, players like Buster Posey and Matt Kemp will share the field with a common goal in mind besides battling each other for the win. Whether in Brooklyn, Los Angeles, or San Francisco, Jackie’s heroism transcends city rivalry.
Josh Beckett will be making his second start of the season for the Dodgers, and hopefully the veteran right-hander can go a bit longer than his last start when he only made it through 4 innings. Beckett seemed extremely rusty or perhaps he was just his normal self after giving up 5 runs on 5 hits with 5 strikeouts and a walk to Detroit. Don Mattingly has little choice but to go with Beckett since Clayton Kershaw is still disabled. Beckett is 4-5 with a 3.76 ERA in 9 career starts against the Giants. He’s made 4 previous starts at AT&T Park, and he is 2-2 with a 3.42 ERA up north. Beckett’s biggest nemesis will be Hunter Pence who is hitting .412 with 7 hits including a homerun against him.
The Dodgers are not the only one with starting pitching issues during this early part of the season. Arizona clearly had some major rotation
problems, and the Giants are still figuring out what to do with Lincecum. Tim Lincecum will make his third start of the season, and his first start against the Dodgers this year on Tuesday night. Lincecum’s ERA is even higher than Beckett right now, and he has allowed 11 earned runs on 15 hits in just 10 innings of work so far. The Freak has definitely been in decline, but will this be his worst season yet? 2012 and 2013 were really bad years for the 29-year old right-hander. 2012 saw Timmy go 10-15 with a Beckett-like 5.18 ERA. Last season he had a similarly awful year going 10-14 with a 4.37 ERA. Last season, Tim was 2-1 against the Dodgers. Overall against the Dodgers, he is 9-6 with a 2.92 ERA in 23 games. Adrian Gonzalez, who has been red hot, has only hit Timmy to a tune of .212. Hanley Ramirez and Yasiel Puig have both hit Lincecum well, and Andre Ethier has two homeruns against him.
The Dodgers will also have to deal with Brandon Belt who had a hot start to the season going 12-for-35 with 5 homeruns in his first 8 games. Belt has slowed since we saw him at Dodger Stadium, and he is just 2 for his last 19 at-bats.
The Dodgers have only lost one road game so far this year. The one road loss came in San Diego. The Dodgers will be vying for their 10th win of the year! I can’t believe that this season is in full bloom, and the Dodgers are hitting and hitting them out. If they can just continue this momentum while Kersh is out, then once the ace returns along with Chad Billingsley, the Dodgers rotation will be so much stronger than the group of arms Mattingly has to work with right now. Paul Maholm, as temporary as he should be, will be making another start for the Dodgers on Wednesday in SF.
The Dodgers will have to decide who will be cut from the pitching staff once Brian Wilson is activated. Of course my first pick would be Brandon League. League is downright awful at pitching right now. I have no idea if he could be fixed, but the Dodgers have spent way too much time and too many runs and games allowing him to work on things. I know this project was extremely expensive, but the Dodgers need to cut their losses with League now. He’s already allowed 3 runs in the 3 games he’s pitched in this season. He’s allowed 4 hits in 4 2/3 innings, and he has his usual 5.79 ERA.
Chris Withrow might be optioned back down to Albuquerque so the Dodgers could hang on to League and Maholm, but that would be a huge mistake. Withrow has not allowed a run, and he’s only given up one hit over 7 innings so far this season. He’s pitched brilliantly, and he has racked up a dozen strikeouts and only 2 walks in those 6 games. Withrow is a closer in training, and he shouldn’t be wasted in AAA. Withrow is an integral part of this Dodger bullpen, not only for this season but also many seasons to come.
Prediction: Josh Beckett allows a homerun to a Giant.
The game will be broadcast on SportsNet LA or CSN-BA in San Francisco. First pitch is at 7:15 p.m. PT
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