Dodgers at Cardinals, 2:00PM PT, TV: Fox Sports 1
This is it for the Dodgers. They must win today. If not, they’ll go home, lick their wounds and hunt for reliable middle relief in the offseason. Recognizing that, they’re sending Clayton Kershaw, the best pitcher in either league, out to do battle with Shelby Miller (10-9, 3.74 ERA), who’ll be making his first appearance of the postseason. Kershaw has to get past his uncharacteristic failure in Game One. Assuming he does, he still has to rely on the Dodgers’ offense, which has been anything but scintillating. In Game Three they were a dreadful 1 for 11 with runners in scoring position. They desperately need Gonzales (.167 for the series), Gordon (.154), Uribe (.077) and Puig (.250) to get untracked, and they need them today.
Nationals at Giants, 6:00PM PT, TV: Fox Sports 1
The Nationals must also win today or take the winter off early. In hopes of doing so they hand the ball to Gio Gonzales, who got on a roll in September, going 4-1 with a 2.36 ERA and righting what had been a forgettable season. His opponent will be Ryan Vogelsong, who did just the opposite in the last month, going 0-4 with a 5.53 ERA.
The Nationals too have a hitting problem. Third-baseman Anthony Rendon is 7-for-15 (.467) this postseason. The rest of the Nats’ starting position players have combined to go 13-for-96 (.135).
Giants at Nationals, 12:00PM PT, TV: FS1
The Giants start 13-year veteran Jake Peavy, the mid-season acquisition who was 1-9 with a 4.72 ERA for the Red Sox but 6-4 with a 2.17 ERA when he got back to the National League with the Giants. Their ace, Bumgarner, pitched and won the wild card game on Wednesday and won’t be available until Game 3 of this series on Monday. The Nationals have had their rotation set for two weeks, and tomorrow they start Stephen Strasburg, who was 14-11 with a 3.14 ERA this season. He’ll be making his postseason debut; in a controversial move the Nats’ management shut him down before the season ended in 2012, the last time the Washington team made the playoffs. (They missed the wild card by four games last season, and Strasburg was recovering from Tommy John surgery anyway).
Cardinals at Dodgers, 3:30PM PT, TV: FS1
Clayton Kershaw vs. Adam Wainwright. The best pitching matchup of any of these four series. We could see a double no-hitter.
Can Molina stop Dee Gordon and the other Dodger base stealers? Can the Dodgers keep from going into another hitting slump like they did last year?
We’ll find out this afternoon.
Rockies at Dodgers 1:10PM PT, TV: SPNLA, KDOC-56
Greinke’s on the hill for four or five innings as a tuneup. Uribe’s managing. Kershaw’s the pitching coach. Ryu may be the bullpen coach “if he can get him to understand when he calls down,” Mattingly said.
The Rockies send out rookie Christian Bergman, who’s 3-4 with a 5.29 ERA in nine starts this season and coming off a win against the D-Backs in which he gave up two runs on six hits in 5 2/3 innings.
Ryu is throwing bullpen today and Kershaw will throw a couple of innings in a simulated game. The Dodgers are feeling pretty hopeful that Ryu will be able to start Game Three of the NLDS on October 6.
If you’re interested in what has happened or is still happening elsewhere, here’s MLB’s live blog of the events in Cincinnati between the Pirates and Reds, in Texas between the As and Rangers, in Seattle between the Angels and Mariners, in Chicago between the Royals and White Sox, and in Detroit between the Tigers and Twins. What’s the big deal? Well, there’s a chance that there might be three, three! Game 163 tiebreakers required to settle the playoff seedings and even some of the participants. The possibilities are laid out in mind-numbing detail in that post.
Lineup when available.
Rockies at Dodgers, 6:10PM PT, TV: SPNLA, KDOC-56
Nobody’s calling Dan Haren a hot young prospect anymore, unlike his opponent in today’s game, a right-hander named Eddie Butler. Haren’s luck against the Rockies throughout his career has been poor: he’s 7-9 with a 5.19 ERA in eighteen starts against them. He’ll be on a pitch count today, the team says. Young Mr. Butler made only his second big league start last Saturday and went six innings, giving up one run on five hits and a walk to the D-Backs.
Hun-Jin Ryu reported he felt fine after throwing off a mound for the first time in two weeks Friday. He only threw 20 pitches, though. He’s scheduled to throw a full bullpen session tomorrow. An aside: I’m not sure that’s going to be all that representative of his control or velocity, since as I understand it he doesn’t throw between starts, unlike his American-trained counterparts. We’ll have to see.
This is a mildly interesting bit of trivia:
The Dodgers will finish the season without a losing streak longer than three games, joining the 1988 (161 games) and 1924 (154) teams as the only ones in franchise history without a four-game losing streak in a season.
Their longest winning streak of the season was six, for comparison.
Lineup when available.
Update: If the Dodgers’ Twitter feed is to be believed, Clayton and Ellen Kershaw are expecting their first child. Less importantly, Jeremy Lin is going to throw out the first pitch.
Giants at Dodgers, 7:10PM PT, TV: SPNLA, ESPN, KDOC-56, CSN-BA
If the Dodgers win, they win the NL West. If the Giants win, they clinch a playoff berth. One way or the other one of these teams is going to be celebrating something after tonight’s game.
Most every sportswriter in the country and most fans as well are probably chalking up this game as a win for the Dodgers, what with Clayton Kershaw pitching for them tonight. Well, Tim Hudson is having a poor year, but he’s not chopped liver. He’s started 456 games in his 16-year career and won 214 of them (first among all active pitchers) while losing only 123, with a lifetime ERA of 3.45. However, in his last outing he went only 4 1/3 innings against the Padres, giving up four runs on seven hits. The start before that was against the Dodgers, and it was awful: six runs on eight hits in just one inning.
In personnel news, Mattingly thinks Hyun-Jin Ryu won’t be seen on the mound again until the playoffs.
Lineup when available.
Dodgers at Cubs, 11:20AM PT, TV: SPNLA
Clayton Kershaw has won five straight games and is trying to win his 20th game of the season. He’s 19-3 with a 1.70 ERA. He’ll face old friend Edwin Jackson, who’s coming off the DL, where he was nursing a right lat strain. Before he got hurt he was 6-14 with a 6.09 ERA.
Believe it or not, Jackson, who got his first start with the Dodgers back in 2003 and made it a memorable one, turned 31 years old 10 days ago and has been pitching in the major leagues for 12 years with a lifetime record of 84-103 for mostly bad teams.
Lineup when available.
Dodgers at Giants, 1:05PM PT, TV: SPNLA, CSN-BA
To celebrate the 200th anniversary of Francis Scott Key’s most famous composition, there will be special events honoring the National Anthem before today’s games. In Baltimore (site of Ft. McHenry, class, had you forgotten?) there will be a special program, and in other ballparks the video montage PBS has been using to promote its production Star-Spangled Banner: The Bicentennial of our National Anthem will be shown.
One hopes the Dodgers didn’t wear out their bats in yesterday’s 17-run explosion.
Clayton Kershaw goes after win number 19 this afternoon at AT&T Park. There’s not much left to say about what he’s done this season, except that his hitting has fallen off. He’s hitting just .161 this year with 19 strikeouts in 56 at-bats after hitting .182 last year, .207 in 2012 and .225 in 2011. His ERA has, unbelievably, also dropped from last year. In 33 games and 236 innings last season Kershaw’s ERA was 1.83. This season over 24 games and 177 innings it’s 1.67.
His opponent will be Yusmeiro Petit, a 30-year-old right-hander who first came to the big leagues in 2006 with the Marlins. He’s bounced between the minors and majors with two more teams since then, going 19-24 overall. Earlier this season he set a major league record by retiring 46 consecutive batters before allowing one to reach base. In his last outing he threw 84 pitches in a complete game win over the D-Backs.
Dodgers at Giants, 7:15PM PT, TV: SPNLA, NBC Bay Area
Hyun-Jin Ryu faces Madison Bumgarner. Ryu is 2-1 with a 5.40 ERA against the Giants this season; Bumgarner is 2-1 with a 2.41 ERA against the Dodgers this season. This year Ryu is 14-6 with a 3.16 ERA overall; Bumgarner is 17-9 with a 3.02 ERA overall.
It will be Greinke v. Hudson on Saturday night and Kershaw v. Petit Sunday afternoon.
Lineup when available.
Also from Twitter: “The Dodgers have selected the contract of LHP Scott Elbert from Triple-A Albuquerque, and designated RHP Red Patterson for assignment.”
The Dodgers managed to throw the ball away three times on one play in the sixth inning, allowing two runs to score. Fortunately the Dodgers had already scored eight runs by that point. With the 9-4 win (Kershaw’s 18th) they have a 3 1/2 game edge on the Giants, who were idle tonight. The D-Backs open a three-game series in AT&T Park with the Giants tomorrow.
Padres at Dodgers, 7:10PM PT, TV: SPNLA, FSSD
Clayton Kershaw is steaming toward another Cy Young Award with a 17-3 record and a 1.70 ERA. His opponent will be Odrisamer Despaigne, who’s 3-5 with a 3.06 ERA in his first 13 MLB starts. He pitched in LA on July 10 and gave up two runs in seven innings, losing to Kershaw 2-1.
If you thought Matt Kemp was finally getting back to full health and form, you’re right. In fact, this season’s OPS of .831 is only slightly below his career OPS of .842. For the second half of this season he’s got a slash line of .307/.376/.584 with 11 home runs. (That’s Batting Avg/On-Base Pctg/Slugging Pctg, for those of us who never remember).