The Battle For First Place Begins Tonight at Phony Book Park
By Scott Andes
Dodgers Lineup vs. Giants
Nathan Eovaldi-0-3 vs. Barry Zito-5-5
The Dodgers return to National league play finally and end their nine game road trip with a vital three game set in San Francisco against the second place Giants. The Dodgers finished their interleague schedule with a dismal 6-9 record, and suffered a depressing series loss to the Angels when Josh Lindblom had a two out meltdown in the seventh inning that allowed two runs to cross the plate breaking the tie and dooming the Dodgers to the defeat.
The Dodgers are now 7-19 at Anaheim against the Halos over the last 26 games, and have now lost six series in a row to the Angels. Every year the Dodgers suck against the American League, and that still hasn’t changed. Thank god interleague play is over and we return to good ol’ regular National League Baseball. Thank the lordy this brutal slog of games is over.
Fortunately the Dodgers played well enough to finish interleague play still in first place. However their lead has dwindled a bit. The Dodgers remain three games ahead of the Giants, thanks to Oakland beating them with a walk-off three run home run from rookie Derek Norris yesterday. The Diamondbacks have moved to within five and a half games in third place, and the Dodgers can hear the footsteps behind them.
These remaining 15 games with the Giants should determine the division winner. The three game series in San Francisco will see the Dodgers give the ball to Nathan Eovaldi in game one, Clayton Kershaw in game two, and Chad Billingsley in game three. The Giants will be countering with lefty Barry Zito, Ryan Vogelsong, and Tim Lincecum in games one, two, and three respectively.
The Dodgers will give the ball tonight to rookie Nathan Eovaldi. Young Nathan is the new Hiroki Kuroda of the pitching staff. He has pitched extremely well, yet is still win-less on the season because the Dodgers never ever score any runs for him. You can count the number of runs the Dodgers have scored for Eovaldi on one hand. This is why Eovaldi is 0-3, yet has a 2.35 ERA. Eovaldi has been quite effective, only allowing two home runs, and whiffing 20 batters in 30 innings. His walk rate is a bit high at 3.5 but he has only given up eight runs all year. On the road Eovaldi is 0-2 with a 2.55 ERA. Eovaldi has never faced the Giants before.
The Giants will counter with lefty Barry Zito. The Las Vegas native is a familiar foe to the Dodgers. They have seen him many times over the years. Fortunately for the boys in blue, Zito comes in mired in the middle of a three game losing streak. In his last start he was touched up for eight runs, and hasn’t won a start in weeks. His numbers have begun to balance out after a hot start for the 34 year old veteran lefty. Zito is 5-5 with a 4.35 ERA. He has whiffed 45 in 80 innnigs. His walk rate is 4.0, and he doesn’t miss many bats. We might actually have a shot here. This is actually Zito’s 22 career start against the Dodgers which is the most any active pitcher has started against the blue. How has Zito fared versus the Dodgers? Past numbers show mixed results. Overall, Zito is 6-9 with a 3.99 ERA, and 100 whiffs. However the current group of Doders are only hitting .191 collectively (38 for 199). Andre Ethier is only .182 (6 for 33) against Zito. Juan Rivera is .242 (7 for 29) with a home run and five RBIs. Adam Kennedy is .160 (4 for 25), with a home run. Juan Uribe is an atrocious .095 (2 for 21). Uribe is terrible against everyone. James Loney is even worse, batting .071 (2 for 28) when facing Zito. However Jerry Hairston is hitting .364 (8 for 22) with a home run and three doubles. Hey Chad Billingsley has three hits off of Zito. I wonder if Bills can play first base? All total the Dodgers have gone deep three times off of Zito. (Rivera, Hairston, and Kennedy).
The Dodgers are very fortunate they do not have to face Matt Cain, or Madison Bumgarner in this series. The next chapter in the Dodgers/Giants rivalry begins tonight. The Dodgers still have the best record in the National League at 43-30. The battle for the NL West title starts tonight at 7PM, on Prime Ticket. Runs should be at premium again tonight Dodger fam, let’s hope for the best. We’ll be here after the game to provide you with a comprehensive recap, no matter what the outcome. Go Blue.