Los Angeles Dodgers Visit San Francisco for Important Weekender
In order to gain some traction in the division race the Dodgers will need to rely on their inconsistent pitching against a suddenly lively and unpredictable San Francisco offense. Withstanding the loss of Melky Cabrera is crucial to the Giants World Series aspirations. Pablo Sandoval and newcomers Marco Scutaro and Hunter Pence have turned it on of late to join Buster Posey and Angel Pagan to form a potent offense.
Matt Kemp has been unable to get anything going lately with only three hits in his last 25 at-bats. He was even robbed of a two-run go ahead homerun last night against the Padres by Cameron Maybin's well-timed catch at the wall.
The Dodgers will send Josh Beckett to the mound in the opener on Friday to pitch in a key divisional series, which he is no stranger to. As the ace of the Boston Red Sox staff during the 2007 World Series run, Beckett has been a mainstay within one of, if not the best divisional rivalry in baseball between the Sox and the Yankees. Big games have never bothered him in the past, but this season has been a different story for Beckett. The Dodgers hope to see his best to open the series.
The Giants send Tim Lincecum to the mound. In any other year, the Giants and well, everyone involved expected the opponent to perhaps push across one or two runs that day if they were lucky. Giants fans almost made it a holiday whenever Lincecum pitched in years past promptly tweeting #HappyLincecumDay. This year he has been anything but a sure thing. Although he has been better since the All-star break, his overall ERA of 5.21 and overall record of 8-14 are far from his Cy Young capabilities.
The schedule for the remainder of the series is as follows:
Saturday: Matt Cain (13-5) vs. Chris Capuano (11-10)
Sunday: Barry Zito (10-8) vs. Clayton Kershaw (12-8)
If the Giants are to take two of three, they would build a 5.5 game lead with the Dodgers heading into three straight series facing playoff teams (St. Louis Cardinals, Washington Nationals, Cincinnati Reds). On the flip side, if the Dodgers are to sweep or take two of three, they would head into those series either 1.5 or 2.5 games behind the Giants for the division crown. The Giants do not face opponents from outside the NL West for the remainder of the season.
Can the Dodgers close the gap or will the Giants build a cushion heading into the final four weeks of the regular season?