After a raucous series finale in St. Louis, the Dodgers escaped Busch Stadium with one win but quite a few bruises. The Cardinals continue to hit batters, and they ended up plunking the Dodgers three times (Yasiel Puig once and Hanley Ramirez twice) during the three-game set. Whether you feel it was intentional or not, the Cardinals and Dodgers seem to have a tense rivalry now which only seems to be getting progressively worse. After the NLCS debacle which saw Hanley Ramirez’s rib cracked by a Joe Kelly fastball, the Red Birds segued into the new season with old grudges.
The D-backs and Cardinals are quickly becoming some of my most aggravating opponents for the Dodgers, even eclipsing my hate for the Giants recently. While Tim Lincecum‘s mustache and Buster Posey in general annoys me to no end, they don’t go headhunting against the Dodgers during games. What’s even more infuriating is that St. Louis has created this so-called “classy” pseudo image which they describe as “The Cardinal Way.” Their fans are heralded as some of the best and most dedicated in the Majors. While I don’t feel like I should judge a whole fan base on a few bad apples, the actions by the players themselves over the past two seasons have me questioning their classy facade. That being said, I know some marvelous Cardinal fans and fellow writers. If the pitching staff could just refrain from hitting Hanley Ramirez, then I’d calm down a little.
Yasiel Puig and Hanley Ramirez will be reevaluated once they get to Pittsburgh. Both players had negative x-rays, but Puig was out
of the lineup on Sunday because of his sore hand. With Hanley’s plethora of injuries, I wouldn’t be surprised if he wasn’t able to play in the series opener against the Bucs on Monday afternoon.
Josh Beckett‘s hip injury is troublesome as well. He has a torn hip labrum with two cysts, and he had this to say about how long he’s been battling this hip impingement:
“I pitched with this thing for six weeks, five weeks. It just kind of progressively got worse and worse,” Beckett said.
Beckett says he plans to pitch through the injury. This makes me feel all sorts of nervous. It never turns out well when a player plays through injury, and he has already said it’s getting progressively worse. With Dan Haren‘s poor pitching, the Dodgers will most likely need to pick up another starting pitcher down the stretch. It just frightens me when I think about possible trade scenarios involving prized prospects.
The Dodgers now go on to the more friendly confines of PNC Park, one of my favorite ballparks in the league. The Pirates find themselves in second place, 1 1/2 games behind St. Louis and Milwaukee who are now tied for first. The Dodgers are also in a tie for first with the Giants who lost to the Marlins on Monday. The Pirates have won three in a row going into Monday’s game against the Dodgers.
The Bucs will have old friend Edinson Volquez on the mound for Game 1. Volquez actually hasn’t been that bad for the Pirates, and last time out against St. Louis the right-hander pitched a complete game! Volquez has won four games in a row, and he beat the Dodgers last time he faced them back on June 1st in Los Angeles. Overall, he is 3-3 with a 3.83 ERA against the Dodgers over 8 career starts. Andre Ethier, Adrian Gonzalez, and Matt Kemp have all hit him well in the past. Gonzo has hit 2 homeruns against him, and Kemp has one Bison Blast versus Volquez.
Hyun-jin Ryu will be taking the mound for the Dodgers Monday afternoon. Last time out against the Padres, the Korean southpaw pitched very well and only allowed 2 hits over 6 frames while striking out 10 for the win. He beat Pittsburgh back on May 31st at Dodger Stadium. He is 2-0 against Pittsburgh with a 2.92 ERA in 2 career starts. This will be Ryu’s first start at PNC Park. He’ll have to be wary of M.V.P. Andrew McCutchen who has hit one homerun against him.
Prediction: Hyun-jin Ryu helps his own cause with a base hit.
The Dodgers have only mustered 16 runs over their last eight starts, so runs are at a premium for the Dodgers right now. With the possibility of Yasiel Puig and Hanley Ramirez being unavailable after suffering injuries in the St. Louis series, the Dodgers will really have their work cut out for them against the suddenly successful Volquez.