Jul 23, 2014; Pittsburgh, PA, USA; Los Angeles Dodgers pitcher Clayton Kershaw (22) yells in the dugout before the Pirates host the Los Angeles Dodgers at PNC Park. Mandatory Credit: Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

Dodgers Look to Take Back First Place With Clayton Kershaw on the Mound

After a somewhat disappointing start to the second half including two series losses to St. Louis and Pittsburgh, the Dodgers found their spark again on Friday night with a decisive 8-1 rout of rival San Francisco. Behind a dominant Zack Greinke, who recorded a four-strikeout inning, and a triple happy Yasiel Puig, the Dodgers secured the win in the series opener in San Francisco. The Dodgers collected an amazing and franchise record tying five triples in the game, and Puig had three of the triples himself. This was the first time Don Mattingly started Puig in center field this year, and it couldn’t have gone much better. Even though Puig didn’t have that many opportunities to field balls hit to him in center because of Greinke’s excellent pitching, he still flashed his range with an excellent running catch.

Clayton Kershaw (11-2, 1.92)  vs. Ryan Vogelsong (5-7, 3.99)

Lineup

Gordon 2B

Puig CF

Gonzalez 1B

Hanley SS

Crawford LF

Kemp RF

Uribe 3B

Ellis C

Kershaw P

Even though Paul Maholm was the buzz kill in the bottom of the ninth after he ruined the shutout and allowed the lone run to the Giants, the Dodgers finally looked like they were having fun. I was having a lot of fun as well watching them. This was a feeling which had not been felt for a couple of weeks since before the All-Star break. With Vin Scully back behind the mic, and the triples flowing, it was a memorable night indeed.

The Giants couldn’t muster anything off Greinke who struck out 10 batters through 7 frames, and the quirky right-hander picked up

Jul 25, 2014; San Francisco, CA, USA; Los Angeles Dodgers center fielder Yasiel Puig (66) reacts after his second triple of the night as he stands on third base with San Francisco Giants Pablo Sandoval (48) in the fourth inning at AT&T Park. Mandatory Credit: Lance Iversen-USA TODAY Sports

his 12th victory on the season. The Giants looked downtrodden and a bit frazzled by all the Puig triples, and even Buster Posey looked up at Puig in astonishment at one point as he crouched down behind the plate. It couldn’t really get much better than this glorious defeat of the orange jerseys, but then again the Dodgers have Clayton Kershaw going to the mound for Game 2.

Clayton Kershaw will look to propel the Dodgers back into sole possession of first place on Saturday. Kershaw absolutely dominates the Giants. The ace southpaw is 11-5 with a 1.48 ERA against the Giants in 23 career games (22 starts). Kersh has shut down the pumpkin colored foes at their own AT&T Park over the years as well. He is 6-2 with a 0.78 ERA over 10 games (9 starts) in the lion’s den. Kersh has only allowed 1 homerun at AT&T Park which was to Melky Cabrera in 2012. So that really doesn’t even count, does it? Kersh hasn’t lost a game since May. He wasn’t involved in the decision last time out against St. Louis after pitching 7 innings and allowing 3 runs on 6 hits with 8 strikeouts. Kershaw faced San Francisco back on May 11th at Dodger Stadium, and he allowed 3 runs on 7 hits with 9 Ks over 7 frames in the no decision. Pablo Sandoval has had the most success against Kershaw with 14 hits in 51 plate appearances against him.

The Giants will be sending Ryan Vogelsong to the mound to counter Kershaw. Vogelsong hasn’t won a game since he beat Arizona back on June 21st. Last time out against Philadelphia he only lasted three innings and allowed 4 run on a career-high 11 hits in the disappointing start. The right-hander has already faced the Dodgers three times this year, and each have resulted in a no decision even though San Francisco came away winning all three games. He is 4-3 with a 3.76 ERA in 22 games (13 starts) against the Dodgers over his career. Dee Gordon is hitting .385 against Vogelsong with 10 hits in 27 plate appearances. Juan Uribe and Matt Kemp has hit him well in the past as well, and they are hitting .368 and .308 against the righty.

Prediction: Yasiel Puig dazzles in center field and shows off his arm.

Overshadowed by all the triples Friday night was the return of Hanley Ramirez to the starting lineup who had two hits of his own. Matt Kemp, who has been at the forefront of trade deadline rumors, had three hits including one of the triples. Dee Gordon also collected three base hits including a triple as well. With hot hitting and their usually excellent pitching, the Dodgers can be a force to reckon with when everything works together like a well oiled machine.

Game time is at 6:05 p.m. Be sure to check back here for all the highlights and Puiglights.

Go Blue!

Tags: Clayton Kershaw Los Angeles Dodgers Ryan Vogelsong

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