After a deflating series sweep by the Tigers in Detroit, the Dodgers end up in a first-place tie with San Francisco after the two consecutive losses. The Dodgers look to wrap up the first half of the season on a winning note as they begin their final series before the All-Star Break. Clayton Kershaw is riding a historic 36-inning scoreless streak going into Thursday’s series opener against San Diego. Kershaw hasn’t allowed a run since June 13. Kershaw has been completely dominant during his streak, a historic time span which has seen him strike out 44 batters and walked just 4. His start against the Padres on Thursday evening will ultimately help Mike Matheny decide whether he will start Clayton Kershaw for the National League in the All-Star Game or if he will go with his own ace Adam Wainwright. While Wainwright is incredible in his own right, Clayton Kershaw is the best Dodger pitcher we have seen since the great Sandy Koufax. Kershaw’s elite pitching should be on the national forefront at the All-Star Game in my opinion.
Clayton Kershaw (10-2, 1.85) vs. Odrisamer Despaigne (2-0, 0.92)
Van Slyke CF
First, Kershaw will have to contend with the not that terrible San Diego Padres for Game 1. San Diego is currently in a distant third place, 10 games behind the Dodgers and Giants. The Padres have been playing relatively better recently, but the Dodgers still lead the season series 4-2 over the Friars.
Clayton Kershaw has won seven games in a row. Last time out he beat the Rockies at Coors Field, and he only allowed two hits over 7 innings in the thin air of Denver. He struck out 8 and walked just one in another dominating start which showcased his off speed pitches which have been extremely deadly to opposing hitters during his streak. His friend and battery mate, A.J. Ellis described his pitch arsenal:
"“During this run, he’s had an ‘A’ curveball and an ‘A’ slider this entire time. They’re both electric strikeout pitches.”"
Kershaw is 9-6 overall against the Padres with a 2.47 ERA in 21 career starts. Chris Denorfia has hit Kersh well in the past, and he has hit two doubles and three homeruns against the southpaw.
The Padres will be countering with rookie pitcher Odrisamer Despaigne, a 27-year old right-hander from Cuba. In his three starts,
Jul 5, 2014; San Diego, CA, USA; San Diego Padres starting pitcher Odrisamer Despaigne (40) pitches during the first inning against the San Francisco Giants at Petco Park. Mandatory Credit: Jake Roth-USA TODAY Sports
he has picked up two wins and no losses. In his MLB debut against the Giants on June 23, he pitched 7 solid shutout innings and only allowed 4 hits. He pitched against the Giants again in his last start when he allowed 1 run on 2 hits in 6 innings.
Carl Crawford is also set to return to action as early as Thursday for the Dodgers. The left fielder suffered a severely sprained left ankle and has been disabled since May 27. Don Mattingly said that he will not usurp Matt Kemp in left field right now, and Crawford will be playing off the bench. With Kemp progressively improving at the plate and in the field, there’s no reason to disrupt things right now, but Crawford will come in handy off the bench with Justin Turner still being hurt.
Prediction: Clayton Kershaw continues his streak with a little help from his defense behind him.
The first pitch is at 7:10 p.m., and be sure to come back for all our Kershaw coverage! The Dodgers would like nothing more than to go into the All-Star Break in first place and ready to roll in the second half.