First place and it feels so good! The Dodgers roll out of Denver with three wins out of four and a have a 1 game lead in first place in the NL West for now. The Dodgers fly to Detroit rock city to play the first-place Tigers for a short two-game set at Comerica Park. The Tigers, albeit still in first in the AL Central, have lost three games in a row, and they are only one game above .500 at home this season. The Dodgers are 29-17 on the road this season while they are one game under .500 at home. Splitting the series in Detroit would be fine by me, and I don’t expect the battle with the Tigers to be easy.
The Dodgers also announced on Tuesday that Josh Beckett was placed on the 15-day DL with left hip impingement and recalled Pedro Baez.
After all, the Tigers have Justin Verlander going to the mound for Game 1 on Tuesday afternoon. Verlander recently adjusted his delivery, and that has brought him some renewed success this season which has been a down year for the ace. Tuesday will be the 31-year old right-hander’s 19th start of the season. Verlander picked up his first win since May 30th with his victory against the A’s last time out. He allowed 2 runs on 9 hits over 6 innings. That was an improvement over his mid-June starts, two of which he allowed 7 runs each in back-to-back starts (June 11 & 16). Surprisingly, Verlander has never faced the Dodgers. He is 22-2 in Interleague play with a 2.56 ERA in 29 starts. Only four current Dodgers have ever faced Verlander: Adrian Gonzalez, Juan Uribe, Drew Butera and Carlos Triunfel. None of those four players have fared well against Verlander either, although Gonzo has hit a homerun against him in the past.
The Dodgers will have Hyun-jin Ryu on the mound for the series opener. The Korean left-hander has been excellent this season, and Ryu was
somewhat snubbed for All-Star consideration in my opinion. His ERA is always hovering at 3.00, and he’ll be vying for his 10th win of the season on Tuesday. Last start against Cleveland, he wasn’t involved in the decision, but Ryu pitched 7 innings and allowed 2 runs on 7 hits with 8 strikeouts. Usually reliably good, once in awhile Ryu seems tired. Vin Scully says it is because he pitches better on 5 days rest instead of 4. In fact, on 5 days rest, Ryu is 10-1 with a 1.95 ERA in 12 starts. This will be Ryu’s first start against the Tigers and first start at Comerica Park. None of the current players on the Tigers have ever faced Ryu. He is 2-2 with a 4.23 ERA in Interleague play (6 starts).
The Dodgers are fifth in the Majors in pitching ERA (3.23), second in strikeouts (770), second in saves (29). The Dodgers are also sixth in the Majors in batting average (.261), third in hits (808), first in stolen bases (84). The Tigers of course excel in slugging (second in MLB with .441 SLG%). They’re also fifth in homeruns (94). If the Dodgers can keep the Tigers in the park and curb the extra base hits with their excellent starting pitching, the Dodgers could work out a win of the short series.
Ryu pitched well enough to win in his last start at Dodger Stadium which I attended, but the Dodgers’ lineup wasn’t up to par with Yasiel Puig, Hanley Ramirez, Juan Uribe, and Adrian Gonzalez all sitting out. Hanley has been resting these last couple of games, and with the day off Monday I expect a semi-regular lineup. Losing Erisbel Arruebarrena to the disabled list with a strained right hip flexor was a blow to the team since Erisbel’s sharp defense could really boost the Dodgers in the late innings when they replaced Hanley with the defensive specialist. Unfortunately the Dodgers had to call up Carlos Triunfel again, and he has been struggling to keep up on the field and at the plate.
Prediction: Juan Uribe gets another big clutch hit.
Can the Dodgers tame Miguel Cabrera and the rest of the Tigers? The Dodgers split the April two-game series they played against the Tigers at Dodger Stadium. Kenley Jansen blew the lead in the ninth inning when Victor Martinez tied it up with a two-out RBI single. Carl Crawford‘s tenth inning double ended up giving the Dodgers a 3-2 win in the first game. The Dodgers lost to the Tigers 7-6 in Game 2 in another 10-inning battle. Josh Beckett made his first start since returning from thoracic outlet syndrome surgery, but he wasn’t involved in the decision. Once again Kenley Jansen served up the winning run to Victor Martinez in the tenth inning after he homered to right center field. Let’s hope Mattingly doesn’t let Jansen pitch to Martinez this time around.