Dodgers Lineup: vs. San DiegoM.Ellis 4Victorino 7Gonzalez 3Kemp 8Ramirez 6Ethier 9Cruz 5Ellis 2Kershaw 1
Walk-off wins, rival battles, down-to-the-wire pennant races…that’s what September baseball is made of. The Dodgers have now won their first three games of September and their last two matches in walk-off style. The Dodgers pitching staff has carried this arguably offense lacking team throughout the season. Both the starting rotation and the bullpen has had a stupendous year, and even amidst injuries and trades the pitching staff has still kept the Dodgers in the postseason race. Even though Matt Kemp and Andre Ethier are the dynamic duo of the lineup, the real heroes of the season have been unlikely indeed. Early season heroics from Elian Herrera and the break out performances from A.J. Ellis and career minor leaguer Luis Cruz has proven that hard work really does pay off. In the first half of the season this team looked entirely different. Tony Gwynn Jr., Juan Uribe, James Loney, Jerry Hairston Jr., Ted Lilly, Bobby Abreu, Justin Sellers, and Elian Herrera have all succumbed to injury or have been traded or designated for assignment. You have to hand it to the ragtag bunch of veterans and minor leaguers though. Even when Matt Kemp was sidelined with a hamstring injury, they played through it and kept the Dodgers above .500. Now that the revamped Dodgers are trying to find that team chemistry with little time left on the clock, we have to remember the journey that has brought us up to this point. Whether the Dodgers make it to the postseason or not, we can say that it wasn’t an easy season for the Boys in Blue. The rollercoaster ride continues, and we still have the final loop-the-loop of the 2012 season ahead.
Clayton Kershaw has had another impressive year as the ace of the Dodger pitching staff. Although he hasn’t been as dominating as last season when he won the National League Cy Young Award, he has still been solid despite allowing potentially more homeruns and facing low run support. Last season he allowed 15 homeruns, and this season he has already tied that mark with a month remaining on the regular schedule. Last time out against Arizona, Kersh picked up a loss after only making it through 6 innings. He allowed 2 earned runs on 9 hits while walking 3 and striking out 9 Snakes. Historically Kersh has dominated the Padres. He has a record of 8-3 with a 2.35 ERA against them. None of the regular Pads have mustered much off Kersh, and the hot Chase Headley is hitting just .185 against the southpaw.
The Friars will counter with their own lefty and former Dodger Eric Stults. Remember him? Stults has had a good
year, and last time out against the Braves he collected a win after pitching 6 innings of shutout ball. This will be the first time Stults will face his former team, and most of the current Dodgers haven’t faced him. Stults was originally drafted by the Dodgers in the 15th round of the 2002 amateur draft. He pitched for the Dodgers from 2006-2009. In May of 2009, Stults injured his thumb while making a throw on a Hanley Ramirez bunt attempt. In 2010, Stults was sold to the Hiroshima Toyo Carp of the Japanese League where he played for the year. He briefly played with the Colorado Rockies and the Chicago White Sox in 2011. The Padres claimed Stults off waivers on May 17th of this year.
The Dodgers now sit 4 1/2 games back in the NL West standings, but they are just 1/2 game back of St. Louis for the second Wild Card spot.
Andre Ethier a.k.a Captain Clutch is red hot of late, and he has hit four homeruns in his last twelve games along with 10 RBIs and three doubles. Last night Ethier homered in the bottom of the ninth inning to tie the game at three runs apiece and force the game into extra innings. We will need his clutch performances going down the stretch.
Kenley Jansen, the Dodgers dominating closer, will meet with physicians today to determine if he will be able to pitch again this year. If Jansen must remain on blood thinners, he will be shut down for four weeks.
Tune into KCAL tonight at 7:10 pm for the game, and be sure to come back to Lasorda’s Lair for our nightly recap.