Road Trippin’: Second-Place Dodgers Look to Even Series in St. Louis
The Dodgers will have their work cut out for them on Saturday afternoon when they face undefeated Michael Wacha at Busch Stadium. After dropping the series opener, the Dodgers were knocked out of first place after the Giants defeated the Atlanta Braves. The dejected Boys in Blue now sit 1/2 game out of first place.
Carlos Frias (3-2, 5.34) vs. Michael Wacha (7-0, 1.87)
The Dodgers have played poorly on the road this year, and they are now 5 games under .500 when away from the confines of Dodger Stadium. The Giants have won their last five games in a row, and the Dodgers are now in second place with six games left of this road trip ahead. The Giants are hitting .286 on the road which is the best in the National League. The Dodgers are 11th in the league with a .242 combined batting average on the road. The Dodgers are dead last in the league with 150 hits in away games. The Giants have 259 hits on the road.
Van Slyke LF
The pitching for the Dodgers has been good, but Carlos Frias had a disastrous start in his last outing. I don’t really want to rehash the abysmal start, but the 10 runs on 12 hits through 4 fateful innings made me think that his apocalyptic start at Coors Field last season wasn’t an anomaly. Before that blip on the radar, Frias had pitched well for the Dodgers after slotting into the rotation in place of the injured Hyun-jin Ryu and Brandon McCarthy. This will be Frias’s first career start against the Cardinals. The only current St. Louis players who have any at bats against Frias is Mark Reynolds and Jason Heyward, and neither have a hit against him.
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The pitching matchup is once again very lopsided as Michael Wacha looks to secure the series win for the Red Birds on Saturday afternoon. The 23-year old right-hander is two years younger than Carlos Frias, but it seems as though he has a lifetime of more experience after pitching in four postseason series and earning the M.V.P. Award in the 2013 NLCS when the Cards knocked the Dodgers out. It was the nightmarish Game 6 in which Wacha allowed just 2 hits over 7 innings to the Dodgers before Clayton Kershaw‘s epic meltdown.
I know I’d like to forget about that fateful day, but unfortunately the memories are still quite vivid. It would be pleasant if Frias could somehow outpitch Wacha on Saturday in order to tie up the series. That’s going to be a difficult feat, because Wacha has yet to lose a game this year and started off the season with four consecutive victories. Last time out against a tough Kansas City team, Wacha allowed 1 run on 5 hits over 7 innings of work for the win.
Oct 18, 2013; St. Louis, MO, USA; A fan holds up a sign in reference to St. Louis Cardinals starting pitcher Michael Wacha (not pictured) in game six of the National League Championship Series baseball game against the Los Angeles Dodgers at Busch Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jeff Curry-USA TODAY Sports
Interestingly, Wacha has never faced the Dodgers during the regular season. At Busch Stadium, Wacha is 9-1 with a 2.31 ERA in 22 games (18 starts). A.J. Ellis has 2 doubles in 5 at bats against Wacha.
Speaking of Ellis, the long-tenured Dodger catcher was ejected on Friday night for the first time in his baseball career. Apparently the home plate umpire, Mike Winters, commented on his pitch framing. Although we know that Ellis is not a great pitch framer, I feel as though Winters should not have made that comment to Ellis.
Yasmani Grandal will be activated on Saturday from the 7-day concussion list. Matt Holliday, who missed Friday’s game because he had the flu, could be back in the lineup on Saturday for the Cardinals. Holliday has reached base safely in each of his first 43 games this season, a National League record.
The Dodgers have now been shut out in four straight road games including the sweep up in San Francisco. They haven’t scored a run on the road since May 10th in Colorado.
Precious road runs are hard to come by for the Dodgers, but without success on the road the Dodgers will not get far this season. Carlos Frias will need to bounce back after his last start, but the Dodger bats really need to come back to life for them to recapture first place.