Dodgers Lineup vs. GiantsVictorino 7M.Ellis 4Kemp 8Ramirez 6Ethier 9Rivera 3Cruz 5Ellis 2Kershaw 1
The battle for first place in the NL West begins tonight at Dodger Stadium, as the Dodgers take on the Melky-less Giants in a three game war for first place in the National League West.
The Dodgers are finally returning home after another winning road-trip. The Dodgers won seven of ten on the long trip, which included winning two of three in Miami, three of four in Pittsburgh, and two of three in Atlanta. After winning 5-0 and securing a season split with the Braves, the Dodgers come home for a six game home-stand. They will play three with the Giants, have an off-day on Thursday, and then close the home-stand with three games with Miami over the weekend.
After the Dodgers win on Sunday, the Giants were pounded in a 7-1 loss to the Padres at San Diego. The Giants were unable to sweep, but still took two of three at Petco Park. As a result the Dodgers come home back in first place by a mere half game over the Giants. The Dbacks still sit in third place, four and a half games behind the Dodgers.
These two teams are so close that it is likely that these remaining nine head to head games will decide the division. The Dodgers have six games left against the Giants at Dodger Stadium, including the final three of the season. The Dodgers lead the series 5-4, and last time swept the Giants in late July in San Francisco, shutting them out in the final two games and outscoring them 19-3.
Of course the Giants are still reeling from losing their top hitter Melky Cabrera to a 50 game suspension for violating Baseball’s drug policies. Cabrera failed a drug test for testosterone, and after his appeal process was over, was suspended for the remainder of the regular season, and the first five games of the postseason, if the Giants make it that far. We also learned the other day that Cabrera’s shadiness went even further. Apparently in an effort to fool Major League Baseball, Cabrera, and his two agents, hired a consultant to create a fake web site designed look like Cabrera had accidentally taken a product that he had no idea was a banned substance. The consultant was paid by Cabrera’s two agents to cook up this hair-brain scheme. Many of the Giants players, and fans are still hurt and feel betrayed. Cabrera was a very popular player over there, as fans nicknamed him “The MelkMan” and dressed up in milk man, and or milk maid outfits. Of course we all know that the Giants have a history of employing juicers. After all there was Barry Bonds, the king of all juicers, and Cabrera’s teammate and former Dodger Guillermo Mota who tested positive for a banned substance for the second time, and is still serving his 100 game suspension.
The Dodger’s manager Don Mattingly is just returning from being suspended two games because of the altercation with home plate umpire Angel Campos. Bench coach Trey Hillman filled in as acting manager and won both games. Matt Kemp was not suspended, but was fined for his actions on Thursday in Pittsburgh. I would talk more about this, but Angel Campos could and would eject my post.
With that being said, even though losing Cabrera puts the Giants at a big disadvantage since there is no way for them to replace Cabrera’s bat in the lineup, the Giants are still a very solid team. I hate the Giants, I mean I absolutely loath them. They are a disgustingly evil Baseball organization, and I wish them nothing but failures. However I must admit they are a pretty decent team, even without Cabrera. They have very good pitching, and still have a few pretty good hitters. (Posey, Sandoval, Pence.) Just because they have lost Cabrera, doesn’t mean they will become some kind of pushovers or anything. What I am saying is the Dodgers can’t take them for granted, and be over confident.
What does make the Dodgers cocky is Clayton Kershaw. I mean what team wouldn’t be with the single most dominating Dodger starting pitcher of our generation.
Kershaw has been completely and utterly dominating against the Giants. He has been a Giant killer, and we need to be his normal Cy Young self tonight. Kershaw this year is 1-2 with a 1.57 ERA against the Giants. His two losses were starts where he only gave up two earned runs. Of course the Dodgers offense couldn’t score him anything. Kershaw in his career is 7-3 with a 1.32 ERA against the Giants. Yes he is that dominating. Against the league this year, Kersh is 11-6 with a 2.90 ERA, and 165 whiffs. The last time he faced the Giants in San Francisco in late July, he shut them out, and again was utterly dominating versus them in every way possible. Kershaw has won four in a row, and is once again competing for the NL Cy Young award. The Giants are only hitting .184 (34 for 185) against Kershaw. Buster Posey is only hitting .214 (6 for 28). Pablo Sandoval is hitting .250 (6 for 24). Hunter Pence is .056 (1 for 18), and Brandon Belt .188 (3 for 16). None of the current Giants have taken Kershaw deep. None. These current Giants have only had five extra-base hits off of Kershaw, and have whiffed 53 times, with only 8 walks, and six RBI. The entire Giant’s roster has only scored six runs against Kershaw ever. That is what is called domination folks.
The Giants will counter with lefty Madison Bumgarner. By all accounts, Bumgarner is having a very good season. The 23 year old lefty is 13-7 with a 2,97 ERA, and 150 whiffs. His whiff per nine rate is 8.2, and his walk rate is a very low 1.8. In Bumgarner’s last start he pitched a complete game win over Washington at home, and only allowed one run. His home and road splits are striking. At AT&T Park, Bumgarner has a NL best 1.87 ERA. But on the road his ERA is a mortal 4.06. In his career, Bumgarner is 4-2 with a 3.62 ERA against the Boys in Blue. Overall the Dodgers are hitting .250 (20 for 80) collectively against Bumgarner. Matt Kemp is batting .308 (4 for 13). Andre Ethier is hitting is only hitting .100 ( 1 for 10). Hanley Ramirez is 1 for 8. Shane Victorino is hitting .333 ( 3 for 9). Juan Rivera is batting .429 off of Bumgarner (3 for 7). Rivera has hit the Dodgers only home run off of Bumgarner.
The Dodgers have a couple of pitchers currently rehabbing in Rancho Cucamonga, but are still unsure when or if they will return. Rubby De La Rosa, and Matt Guerrier are both making progress towards returning, possibly in September when the rosters expand. De La Rosa has already pitched 12 scoreless innings in his rehab, and Guerrier has pitched one scoreless frame. The Dodgers have said that De La Rosa will more than likely be put in the bullpen, but it is possible he could make a couple of starts before the season is up. FYI, Luis Cruz is in the lineup and is fine after suffering a leg cramp yesterday in Atlanta during the eighth inning of the Dodger’s 5-0 win.
First pitch tonight is at 710PM, and televised on Prime Ticket. The Dodgers don’t need roids to win. The Boys in Blue use talent and good ol’ fashioned hard work. Hard work is the only “juice” you need to succeed. The battle for the NL West crown continues tonight at Dodger stadium. Check back in over here for our post-game recap. Don’t miss a thing! It’s the Dodgers and the Giants! Red Alert! Battle stations Dodger fans! Go Blue.