May 31, 2014; Los Angeles, CA, USA; Los Angeles Dodgers shortstop Hanley Ramirez (13) reacts after hitting a solo home run in the sixth inning against the Pittsburgh Pirates at Dodger Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports

Josh Beckett on the Bump for Rubber Game vs. Chicago

The Dodgers lost to the White Sox on Tuesday night after stranding a dozen runners and not being able to come up with the big clutch hit from their middle of the order guys. Even though the Dodgers rank toward the top of the league in batting average (.254-4th), slugging (.408-4th), OPS (.730- 3rd), and hits (527-2nd), there still is inconsistency with their offense. Yasiel Puig has contributed to those offensive marks, and he is second in the league in batting with a .343 average behind the emblazoned Troy Tulowitzki who is hitting .353. Even with Puig’s awesomeness, the Dodgers still go through droughts of underperformance at the plate. They still have yet to find their groove with Hanley Ramirez, Adrian Gonzalez, Matt Kemp, and Andre Ethier who are all having down years thus far at the plate.

Josh Beckett (3-2, 2.52) vs. John Danks (3-5, 4.66)

Lineup

Gordon 2B

Puig RF

Ramirez SS

Gonzalez 1B

Kemp LF

Van Slyke CF

Turner 3B

Butera C

Beckett P

Dee Gordon is regressing as well. Dee was hitting well over .300 for most of the season, but he has now dropped to .275. Still respectable, and Dee’s incredible base snatching is still tops in the Majors with 34 stolen bases. Yet with Gordon’s regression with the bat, the Dodgers will need to contemplate the possible future platoon of Gordon with Alex Guerrero at second in order to inject some more power into the lineup. Especially with Hanley, Kemp, Ethier, and Gonzo not exactly smashing a lot of homeruns right now, and not hitting with runners in scoring position, the Dodgers may have to manipulate the roster this season in order to squeeze out the most offense.

Don Mattingly has already shifted Matt Kemp to left field for good, and he has mentioned that he will use Erisbel Arruebarrena in late inning

Josh Beckett has really been a bright spot for the Dodgers this season. Photo: Richard Mackson-USA TODAY Sports

defensive substitutions more often especially with Hanley not exactly staying consistent this season with the bat. The Dodgers just haven’t clicked yet. This expensive roster was expected to perform, and thus far they have been nothing short of mediocre. Sitting in second place, seven games back of the Giants, is not where anyone expected the Dodgers to sit right now in the standings. The Boys in Blue will need to shift the momentum in their favor and go on a winning streak in order to pick up some games and eventually eclipse the first-place Giants in order to defend their NL West crown.

Josh Beckett has had a remarkable season so far, and there’s nothing bad I can say about his gutsy comeback season so far. Beckett has entrenched himself in Dodger history forever with his memorable no-hitter last month, but Josh is still not ready to sit back and reminisce just yet. In his first start after the no-hitter, Josh pitched a good five innings against the Pirates last Friday. He lost, but he only allowed 2 runs on 5 hits. Against the White Sox, Beckett is 4-3 with a 3.74 ERA in 9 career starts. Alexei Ramirez has 4 hits in 16 at-bats against Beckett, but most of the current White Sox haven’t faced Beckett including the rookie phenom Jose Abreu.

Jose Abreu is good at baseball. Even though he is just returning from a disabled list stint, he picked up right where he left off when he returned to action in this series versus the Dodgers. He’s hit two homeruns with 5 RBIs so far in the series. Beckett will need to pitch very carefully to Abreu who can go yard at a moment’s notice.

The White Sox will go for the series win with left-hander John Danks on the mound. Danks hasn’t won since May 7th, but then again Hector Noesi picked up his first victory since 2012 last night against the Dodgers. He pitched 7 innings and allowed 2 runs on 8 hits against the Padres in his last outing. Danks has only made 2 starts against the Dodgers in his career, and he is 1-1 with a 2.08 ERA in those games. He won his only start at Dodger Stadium and pitched 6 scoreless innings all the way back in June of 2008. Hanley Ramirez has 2 hits including a homerun against Danks in 3 at-bats. Chone Figgins has the most at-bats against Danks (27), but he only has 4 hits against him.

We have 60 games in the books, and there isn’t too much to show for it besides the individual stardom of Yasiel Puig, Beckett’s no-hitter, Gordon’s base

Jose Abreu has hit 2 homeruns in the series so far. Photo: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

stealing, and the starting pitching excellence (even though Dan Haren seems to be on the downturn). The All-Star break is right around the corner, and the Dodgers have a lot of work to do in order to make up some ground in the West. Sure, there’s two Wild Cards which will be up for grabs, but the Dodgers should really focus on defending their division title. All the talent and all the money in the world isn’t necessarily a guarantee for a World Championship. I think the Dodgers could learn a little bit from their hockey counterparts the L.A. Kings who have come up clutch when needed and are about to begin the battle for the Stanley Cup.

Prediction: Yasiel Puig hits another homer.

The Dodgers have played well against the American League this season (5-2), but a series win against the White Sox on Wednesday night could put the momentum in their favor before they head out on another road trip this Friday. When Hanley hits, the Dodgers usually win. I feel Hanley will start to hit more consistently, but piecing together a cohesive club with a reliable offense, defense, and pitching is the recipe which the Dodgers need to perfect.

Join us here for the recap, and let us know in the comments how you think Mark McGwire is doing as hitting coach?

Go Blue!

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Tags: John Danks Josh Beckett Los Angeles Dodgers

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