|Hanley Ramirez and Marco Scutaro during September, 2013 action (AP Photo)|
Thursday, May 2, 2013
The Rivalry 2013 Edition, Part 2
The Dodgers roll in to San Francisco for a three game set with a chance to get back in the NL West mix. They also can get buried if the series turns disastrous. Even if the worst occurs, it should be noted that the season will be 28 games old when this series ends, leaving a lot of season to be played, but falling behind 6 games in the standings is not an ideal position to be in.
With injuries plaguing the ball club, questions remain on the status of key components of the starting lineup. Notably Mark Ellis’ quad muscle “strain” and Carl Crawford’s tight hamstring. Normally a trip to Northern California brings on frigid conditions that aren’t conducive to muscle tweaks, but a rare heat wave arrived in the Bay Area the past few days and San Francisco was a balmy 85 degrees today, cooling off to the high 60s at night.
San Francisco weather expects to continue on this heating trend throughout Friday and Saturday before finally cooling off on Sunday. This is all good news for the Dodgers and their injured players as Friday and Saturday night games we can expect temperatures in the 60s The Sunday afternoon game will have cooler temps in the afternoon, also in the mid 60s (with some chances of light rain).
Enough with the meteorologist report. Whatever the weather turns out to be, the Dodgers will need quality pitching to go in tandem with some runs this weekend. Facing the Giant trio of Zito (Fri.), Vogelsong (Sat.) and Cain (Sun.), the Dodgers will counter with Clayton Kershaw, followed most likely by Matt Magill, (who’ll replace Lilly), and then Hyun-Jin Ryu. Kershaw returns to the club following a 5 days absence of bereavement leave as he attended his father’s funeral back in Dallas. Our sincerest condolences to Clayton and his family who is undoubtedly experiencing a difficult week.
With the Giants coming off a surprising sweep at Arizona following a disastrous three in San Diego, they appear to have rebounded with a statement to the rest of the division. They’re a force to be reckoned with. What the Dodgers need to do is make a statement of their own. Taking this weekend series in Frisco would be a real start.
The Dodger offense ranks second in the league with a .327 on base percentage at the same time tallying the second to lowest amount of runs, with the awful Marlins the only team lagging behind. Considering the inept run scoring of this team, it’s a borderline miracle that they find themselves only one game under .500 at 13-14. Watch the Dodgers improve significantly as the law of averages evens things out and they score more runs. It is my position that there is no way that the Dodgers current 3.37 runs per game average will continue to be so low. Especially as they reach base at their current rate.
After 25 games, I see trends with this team scaling up as they are hitting better with men in scoring position and they are working deeper into counts. Mark McGwire got the same results while serving as the Cardinals hitting coach. I said at the beginning of the year in my predictions thread that the Dodgers, with an OBP of .335 would be a force in the league. They are about 10 points short on that front, but the numbers have been trending up the past 10 games in which they’ve won six. Even with the two game losing streak that is currently in play.
San Francisco’s starter on Friday will be Barry Zito who was hit hard in San Diego in his last outing when he didn’t get out of the fourth inning. Hopefully his ineptitude continues and the Dodgers take advantage of it. With Kershaw toeing the rubber on Friday, they may only need two or three runs to pull it out.
Saturday’s starter for the Giants, Ryan Vogelsong is sporting a 6.23 ERA and general ineffectiveness this season so far, also coming off a loss to San Diego where he surrendered six runs over five innings of work. It’ll be another winnable game as Matt Magill and his arsenal of pitchers hit the Bay Area for the first time. I look for Magill to confuse the Giant lineup as they’ll be unfamiliar with his repertoire.
Winless Matt Cain starts on Sunday and he’s 0-2 with a 6.49 ERA so far. I keep expecting Cain to break out of his funk, but aside from opening day, he has been awful this year.
What it comes down to is the Dodgers should take these games and have some offensive production. All three Giants starters are very hittable and they are avoiding San Francisco’s ace, Madison Bumgarner. It’s time to overcome the injuries and break out the bats. AT&T Park has had it’s moments of offensive outbursts and that usually happens when the occasional heat wave arrives. Hopefully the Dodgers hit them like a heat wave and depart the Bay Area on Sunday night after a series win.