The four-game series between the rival Dodgers and Giants, which included some heated exchanges and a broken thumb for Brandon Belt, concludes on Sunday at Dodger Stadium. After finally snapping a three-game losing streak with a 6-2 victory over the orange opposition on Saturday, the Dodgers will have their ace Clayton Kershaw on the mound in hopes of a series split. Dee Gordon‘s redefinition as a game changer and honest-to-goodness lead-off man has not only given the Dodgers the decisive lead amongst all Major League teams in stolen bases with 44, but Gordon has also played an integral role in manufacturing runs when the Dodgers have needed them the most this season.
Adrian Gonzalez and Hanley Ramirez are not playing up to par as far as what has been expected from the talented hitters (Hanley is hitting .252 with 4 homeruns and Gonzalez is at .264 with 9 homeruns). Yet the aggressiveness of Yasiel Puig (who is now hitting .315 with 5 homeruns) and Dee Gordon has given the Dodgers the excitement factor. Once the rest of the lineup fires on all cylinders (Matt Kemp is heating up and just hit his 5th homerun on Saturday and is up to .270), the Dodgers will have a roster to be reckoned with offensively. While the offense has been disappointing so far, I am confident that Hanley and the others will come around with the bat.
Losing Juan Uribe for any length of time is my main concern at the moment. Uribe, whose strained right hamstring is improving, has yet to be placed on the disabled list. Without a true back-up at third base within the Dodgers’ system, Uribe’s health is the utmost importance. Uribe was also hitting well to start the season, so it is not only his solid defense at the hot corner which will be missed in the interim. As we have seen from past hamstring strains (Matt Kemp), it is unwise to rush back Uribe before he is 100% healthy. Uribe is one of my favorite current players, but he has been historically less effective when unhealthy (i.e. 2011/2012). Don Mattingly will continue to use Chone Figgins and Justin Turner at third base unless Uribe is DL’d which would spur a promotion of an infielder which would likely be either Carlos Triunfel or Alexander Guerrero. Let’s hope it doesn’t get to that point and Uribe is able to bounce back quickly.
Clayton Kershaw will be making his second start since returning from the disabled list after suffering a shoulder injury. Kershaw was back to domination in his last start against the Washington when he pitched 7 shutout innings and struck out 9 while walking none. Kershaw is historically dominant against the Giants as well. He is 11-5 with a 1.38 ERA against the Giants over 22 career games. Pablo Sandoval has the most career hits off Kersh with 12 in 45-at bats, but only Buster Posey has hit a homerun against Kershaw in the past.
Tim Hudson will be making his first start against the Dodgers as a Giant. Last time out, the veteran lost to the Pirates after allowing 2 runs on 5 hits
with 5 strikeouts and a walk over 8 2/3 innings. Hudson has pitched at least 7 innings or more in every start he’s made this season so far for San Francisco. He’s only allowed more than 2 runs in a game once back in April against Colorado. Overall in his career, he is 6-4 against the Dodgers with a 3.49 ERA in 14 starts. He is 1-3 with a 4.47 ERA at Dodger Stadium in 8 starts. Hanley Ramirez has collected the most hits off Hudson with 14 in 53 at-bats. Adrian Gonzalez is hitting .450 off Hudson with 2 homeruns. Miguel Olivo and Matt Kemp have also gone deep against the right-hander in the past.
Prediction: Hanley Ramirez roughs up Tim Hudson in series finale
First pitch will be at 1:10 p.m. PT. The Dodgers will have no rest for the weary until after the Miami Marlins (Giancarlo Stanton again, guys) come into town for a three-game set on Monday.
Happy Mother’s Day!