This is make or break time for the Dodgers. The boys in blue have been pathetic since the all-star break, losing four out of six and two consecutive road series. Now the Dodgers can’t even win on the road. And that was the one place where they could actually win consistently. The Dodgers will fly into the lion’s den to conclude their nine game road trip with a three game series against the Giants. First place in the NL West will hang in the balance.
Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports
Dodgers Lineup @ San Francisco
Hanley and Puig back in the lineup! Puig is starting in center for the first time this season
I know what you’re thinking. You’re thinking “Scott, how can this be a make or break series in late July, there are 60 games left! You are a negative nancy, and you smell!”
Well I usually don’t smell, most of the time. Stick with me on this one. The Giants lost last night to the Phillies, so the Dodgers enter tonight 1.5 games behind and two back in the loss column. In order for the Dodgers or any club to make up ground in the standings, they either have to win on the same night the team ahead of them loses, or win the head to head games.
Looking at the rest of the Dodger’s schedule, these are the last head to head games against the Giants until September. So this means if the Dodgers can’t make up ground now, they have to wait until September. Otherwise they have to win when the Giants lose. These head to head games are extremely important. They’re two game swings.
So I will say it right now. With only 60 games remaining in the season, (no, it’s not early anymore, that excuse won’t fly), if the Dodgers lose two out of three, or get swept, then their divisional hopes are gone. Yup, I said it. If the Dodgers sleepwalk through this huge series you can kiss the division title goodbye. For a 230 million dollar club, that is just not acceptable.
So the Dodgers better bring their A-game as they limp into the lion’s den. Especially since they’ve already lost seven out of ten this season to the Giants. And they better put their best lineup on the field. That means Yasiel Puig and Hanley Ramirez better be in the lineup. At the least Puig should be playing. He’s not hurt. We’ve been watching him dancing in the dugout over the last couple of games. He even pinch-hit on Wednesday. His finger bruise can’t be that bad. Just play him!
The one good thing is that the Dodgers have their starting rotation lined up perfectly for this series. Saturday night will see Clayton Kershaw battle Ryan Vogelsong. Sunday’s matchup is Hyun-jin Ryu against youngster Yusmeiro Petit.
I guess he shaved off his cheesy mustache-Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports
Tonight Zack Greinke will counter Tim Lincecum. Greinke had a rough start in his last outing. He gave up four earned runs on six hits over 5.2 innings in a loss to the Cardinals. In his 20 starts this season Greinke has allowed more than two runs just six times, and more than three earned runs thrice. Greinke has an 11-6 record, 2.90 ERA and 130 whiffs.
Greinke has pitched well against San Francisco. He has a 2-0 record, and a 2.96 ERA in four starts. He’s whiffed 26 and walked just six. But Greinke has made just one start at At&T Park. In that game he gave up four runs on seven hits over 5.1 innings.
Greinke has limited the Giants to a .242 (24 for 99) average against with an OPS of .690. The Giants have hit three home runs and drawn six walks against the Birdman. Hunter Pence has hit two, and Mike Morse has slugged the other. The only guy to watch out for is Marco Scutaro, if he were healthy. Scutaro has hit .391 (9 for 23) with four doubles against Greinke. Otherwise, not much else to see in these numbers.
The Giants will counter with Tim Lincecum. The former Cy Young winner has sort of rebounded to have a decent year. Despite his cheesy looking mustache. I’m not sure. Lincecum is 9-6 with a 3.65 ERA. In 21 starts he’s whiffed 108 and walked 47. He’s allowed 7.6 hits per nine innings.
But Lincecum might be tired after having to pitch the fourteenth inning in the Giant’s 9-6 win on Tuesday, And before that on July 20 Lincecum threw seven frames in a 3-2 loss. Lincecum has always given the Dodgers a hard time. Overall he’s 9-6 with a 2.88 ERA against the Dodgers.
The Dodgers are only hitting .229 (64 for 280) against Lincecum with four home runs and a .632 OPS. Andre Ethier is hitting .275. But the only guy who has done much off of him is Hanley, who is hitting .318 (7 for 22) with a home run and a double. Ethier has hit two home runs, and Uribe has hit the other.
Puig did take some extra batting practice, but this is getting ridiculous. He’s not hurt and the club is holding him out to be cautious. The problem is, there is no tomorrow. These are make or break games the Dodgers have to win. They need Puig in the lineup. Hanley has been banged up all year, but Puig is pretty good at bouncing back quickly from these minor injuries. This was minor. Puig better be in the lineup.
These three games could decide the division. It’s going to be a battle. These games won’t be for the faint of heart I can tell you. The Dodgers have a golden opportunity here to get some momentum back. So the Dodgers better answer the door. Don’t screw this one up Dodgers.
Game Time – 7:15 PM