Dodgers vs Diamondbacks Pre-Game: Searching for the Intensity

The Dodgers were shutout for the 12th time this season, and 5th time at home after losing 2-0 to the Diamondbacks last night.

Apparently, the Dodgers’ new offense went into hibernation after scoring 10 runs on Wednesday, failing to produce any against Diamondbacks starter Ian Kennedy.

While that was happening at Dodger Stadium, the Giants picked up another game on the Dodgers in the division, extending their lead to 4 1/2 games.

This team is struggling at the wrong time, so tonight will need to be the start of something positive.

It will be a match-up of two right-handers tonight at Dodger Stadium, with Aaron Harang opposing Trevor Cahill.

The Diamondbacks traded for Trevor Cahill this off-season hoping to get the All Star pitcher that he once was with the Oakland A’s in 2010, but have hardly gotten that, posting a 9-11 record with a 3.99 ERA in 26 starts.

The 26 starts have been huge for this Diamondbacks team, considering they’ve struggled to keep their pitchers healthy all season.

In his last time out against the Padres he only pitched 3.2 innings, his shortest outing of the season. In that short outing he allowed eight hits, four runs, three walks, with six strikeouts.

The last win for Cahill came on July 30th at Dodger Stadium.

He is also 3-0 with a 1.85 ERA lifetime against the Dodgers, which should give him some confidence going into tonight.

Aaron Harang has done his part this year so far as the back-end of the rotation guy, and will be trying to become the fourth Dodgers pitcher to win 10 games this season.

Harang is 9-8 with a 3.70 ERA in 25 starts going into the game tonight, coming off of a loss in his last outing against the Marlins, going 5.1 innings, allowing six hits, three runs, one walk, with four strikeouts.

However, in his last three starts he’s 2-1 with a 3.00 ERA.

Unlike Cahill, his career numbers against tonight’s opponent don’t favor him, as he holds a 3-7 record with an impressive 2.98 ERA against Arizona.

It looks like it will be up to the Dodgers offense to get a much-needed win tonight.

Arizona Diamondbacks (65-67) at Los Angeles Dodgers (70-62)
Trevor Cahill (9-11, 3.99) vs. Aaron Harang (9-8, 3.70)
Dodger Stadium, Los Angeles, California
7:10 p.m. PST, August 31, 2012
TV: Prime Ticket
Radio: 570 AM (English), 1020 AM (Spanish)
Game-Time Weather: 79 degrees, Sunny
Promotions: Friday Night Fireworks

Diamondbacks’ Projected Starters:
P: Trevor Cahill
C: Miguel Montero
1B: Paul Goldschmidt
2B: Aaron Hill
SS: Jake Elmore
3B: Chris Johnson
LF: Jason Kubel
CF: Chris Young
RF: Justin Upton

Key Bench Players: IF Ryan Wheeler, OF Gerardo Parra

For more on the D’Backs, check out our pre-series report.

Keys to a Dodger Victory:
It’s quite simple, score some runs…

Dodgers vs Rockies Pre-Game: Calm Before the Storm?

It was a nightmare game last night as the Dodgers lost 10-0 to the last place Rockies. The offense was shut down completely, playing in just their third game with the new addition of Adrian Gonzalez in the lineup.

Tonight, the Dodgers will look to bounce back and turn the page on last night’s massacre.

The Rockies will have Tyler Chatwood on the mound against the Dodgers tonight. Chatwood has been a part of the Rockies struggles on the mound this season, posting a 3-3 record with a 4.98 ERA. He was called up late this season for bullpen help, but was moved into the four man rotation and has made five starts. In his last three outings Chatwood is 1-1 with 4.85 ERA. The young right hander from Fontana, California is 1-1 with a 3.75 ERA in his career against the Dodgers.

Chris Capuano will be throwing for the Dodgers tonight, hoping to get some run support in this one. The lefty has been brilliant at times this season with an 11-9 record and 3.37 ERA. He took a tough loss in his last outing against the first place Giants. In that game he only managed to pitch 5.0 innings, allowing six hits, six earned runs, with just two strikeouts. On August 12th against the Marlins which was his last win, he was nearly unhittable. He went 8.0 innings in that one, allowing just two hits, with 10 strikeouts. Tonight, Capuano will look to improve a career record of 5-7 against the Rockies with a 3.58 ERA.

Los Angeles Dodgers (69-60) at Colorado Rockies (52-75)
Chris Capuano (11-9, 3.37) vs. Tyler Chatwood (3-3, 4.98)
Coors Field, Denver, Colorado
5:40 p.m. PST, August 28, 2012
TV: KCAL
Radio: 570 AM (English), 1020 AM (Spanish)
Game-Time Weather: 88 degrees, Mostly Sunny

Rockies’ Projected Starters:

P: Tyler Chatwood

C: Wilin Rosario
1B: Tyler Colvin
2B: DJ LeMahieu
SS: Josh Rutledge
3B: Jordan Pacheco
LF: Carlos Gonzalez
CF: Dexter Fowler
RF: Charlie Blackmon

Key Bench Players: IF Jonathan Herrera, OF Andrew Brown

Keys for a Dodger Victory:

Wake up Bats: The Dodgers need to take advantage of their new and improved dangerous lineup, along with the launching pad known as Coors Field. Being shut out is one thing, being shut out at Coors Field is frowned upon, especially with a lineup like this. Tonight, Capuano will be on the mound and will need run support like every pitcher does. It will be a complete shock if the Dodgers don’t put up five runs or more for him after a poor showing last night.

Dodgers vs Giants Pre-Game: Lincecum Struggles Could Be Dodgers’ Gain

The Dodgers lost a pitcher’s duel last night 2-1 to the Giants, which cost them sole possession of first place in the NL West. Madison Bumgarner and Clayton Kershaw both pitched brilliantly through 8.0 innings, with the Giants actually giving Bumgarner some run support to work with.

It will be up to the Dodgers bats to bounce back tonight in Game 2 against their arch rival.

Tonight’s pitching match-up will feature two right-handers, who have struggled throughout this season.

The Giants will send Tim Lincecum to the mound. It has been a miserable year for the man once known as “Big Time Timmy Jim”, although nothing has been big time this year about him. Lincecum has a 6-13 record on the season with a 5.45 ERA. Those numbers are a shock to everyone around the baseball world, knowing he is a two-time Cy Young Award winner in 2008 and 2009.

Everyone has been expecting Lincecum to find his way out of this funk and to start dominating opposing offenses again, it just hasn’t happened.

In his last three outings he has a record of 1-2 with a 4.24 ERA. Lincecum has a career record of 6-5 with a 2.87 ERA against the Dodgers. So it will be interesting to see what Lincecum shows up at Dodger Stadium tonight.

Dodgers hitter with most success against Lincecum:
Andre Ethier: .286 BA (10-for-35), 2 HR, 6 RBI

The Dodgers will counter with Joe Blanton on the mound tonight. This will be Blanton’s fourth try at winning his first game as a Dodger. He has struggled ever since he put on the Dodger Blue, posting a 0-2 record with an 8.22 ERA in three starts.

Blanton leads the National League with 26 home runs allowed on the season and continues to struggle to keep the ball in the park. Overall Blanton is 8-11 on the year with a 4.96 ERA. The career numbers for him against the Giants don’t get much better, 2-4 with a 4.75 ERA. The Dodgers are still waiting to see what the guy who they picked up for their second half surge can do going forward.

Giants hitter with most success against Blanton:
Angel Pagan: .500 BA (6-for-12 AB, 2 HR, 4 RBI

San Francisco Giants (67-55) at Los Angeles Dodgers (67-56)
Tim Lincecum (6-13, 5.45) vs Joe Blanton (8-11, 4.96)
Dodger Stadium, Los Angeles, California
7:10 p.m. PST, August 21, 2012
TV: KCAL
Promotion: Fernando Valenzuela Bobblehead
Radio: 570 AM (English), 1020 AM (Spanish)
Game-Time Weather: 76 degrees, Mostly Sunny

Giants’ Projected Starters:
P: Madison Bumgarner
C: Buster Posey
1B: Brandon Belt
2B: Ryan Theriot
SS: Brandon Crawford
3B: Pablo Sandoval
LF: Gregor Blanco
CF: Angel Pagan
RF: Hunter Pence

Key Bench Players: IF Joaquin Arias, IF Marco Scutaro

For more on the Giants, check out our pre-series article.

Key to a Dodger Victory:
Run Support: The Dodgers can’t put up an 0-fer after a 10-game road trip when they never scored less than three runs, but they did. This team has to give their pitchers run support, especially Blanton. The Dodgers have to score more than three runs to win tonight’s game against the Giants.

Around the West: Loss of Cabrera Has the Giants in Suspension

The battle for first place in the National League West is heating up during these dog days of summer. It’s the Dodgers and Giants who are constantly jumping one another for a slight division lead with no breathing room. The Dodgers currently hold just a half-game lead over the Giants with a 67-55 record.

It was an impressive 10-game road trip by the Dodgers that moved them into the top spot this week. They went 7-3 on the East Coast trip, winning all three series against the Marlins, Pirates, and Braves. The offense led the way during the trip, scoring five runs or more in eight out of the ten games. The Dodgers will have a huge opportunity this week to extend their lead as they welcome the Giants to Dodger Stadium for a three-game series starting tonight.

With just a half-game separating the two teams, the NL West standings will probably change a few different times this week. What will change more over the next month, NL West standings or Kim Kardashian’s boyfriend? (This could actually be a toss-up.)

San Francisco Giants – 66-55
Some terrible news for the Giants broke last week which could affect their season going forward. The fan favorite and 2012 all-star game MVP Melky Cabrera was suspended 50 games by the MLB after testing positive for high levels of testosterone, which is suggesting usage of performance-enhancing drugs. This is the second time this season that the Giants have lost a player to suspension. In May, Guillermo Mota was suspended 100 games for using performance-enhancing drugs, his second offense.

It will be interesting to see how the Giants do without Cabrera in their lineup. He was hitting .346 with 11 home runs and 60 RBIs on the season and was a big reason for Giants success this season. Earlier in the week the Giants dropped two out of three games to the Nationals and lost the division lead. Then over the weekend they bounced back and won two out of three games at home against the Padres. Tonight will be the ultimate test when they start a three game series with the first place Dodgers, without the “Melkman”.

Reason to be worried (as a Dodger fan): Despite the loss of Melky Cabrera the Giants still have arguably the best starting rotation in baseball.

Reason to optimistic (as a Dodger fan): The Giants offense was always the question mark for this ball club, but they have shocked a lot of people with their production this season. It will now be a concern once again as they will be without Cabrera for the rest of the season.

Biggest contributor: Buster Posey, hitting .330 with 19 home runs and 77 RBIs.

Biggest disappointment: Do I really have to write his name again? Melky! He let down his teammates, fans, and the entire organization.

Biggest surprise: Marco Scutaro, hitting .318 with two home runs and 18 RBIs.

Arizona Diamondbacks – 62-59
The Diamondbacks were catching the eye of lots of people after the All-Star break when they started creeping up in National League West race. This team is still in striking distance of first place, just 4.5 games back at the moment. They went out and picked up third baseman Chris Johnson at the trade deadline, which has been a terrific boost for them since the first time he put on the uniform.

The Diamondbacks are refusing to go away, as they have won their last four games. They swept the Astros over the weekend, which really isn’t saying much, but a win is always going into the win column. They will try to improve that winning streak when they start a three game series tonight at home against the Marlins.

Reason to be worried (as a Dodger fan): When a team is less than five games out of first place it always worries me. A month and a half still left to play and a 4.5 game lead could turn into a 0.5 game lead pretty quickly.

Reason to be optimistic (as a Dodger fan): The Diamondbacks haven’t found a way to stay consistent or healthy all year long, which could hurt them down the final stretch of the season.

Biggest contributor: Jason Kubel, hitting .275 with 25 home runs and 77 RBIs.

Biggest disappointment: Stephen Drew, hitting .193 with two home runs and 12 RBIs. He has only played in 40 games due to injuries, but he hasn’t been the same since his return.

Biggest surprise: Chris Johnson, hitting .246 with five home runs and 18 RBIs in 17 games.

San Diego Padres – 53-70
The Padres sit 14.5 games out of first place in the National League West. On the bright side they continue to sit out of last place in the division as well. Before a win yesterday afternoon against the Giants this team had lost five straight games. It’s been tough to watch for any Padres fan this year, but they still show up to play hard every day. They will start a three-game series tonight at home against the Pirates.

Reason to be worried (as a Dodger fan): This team could go out and beat the Dodgers in a crucial game late in the season to spoil a chance at the postseason.

Reason to be optimistic (as a Dodger fan): They have the worst team batting average in baseball at .238 on the season. The Dodgers pitchers will be happy to face this offense a few more times down the stretch.

Biggest contributor: Chase Headley, hitting .275 with 20 home runs and 76 RBIs.

Biggest disappointment: Cameron Maybin, hitting .219 with six home runs and 37 RBIs.

Biggest surprise: Yasmani Grandal, hitting .289 with five home runs, 15 RBIs, in 26 games since being called up.

Colorado Rockies 46-73
The Rockies are now 19.5 games back in the National League West. It’s been a devastating year for a Rockies team that came into the season with high expectations. The injuries piled up early on and the pitching never got better, which is the result of this miserable 2012 season. They actually won four games in a row before dropping two out of three games over the weekend to the Marlins.

The Rockies will start a four game series tonight against the Mets on the road.

Reason to be worried (as a Dodger fan): This team can flat-out hit, posting the second best in baseball .272 team batting average.

Reason to be optimistic (as a Dodger fan): From the second best team batting average to the worst team ERA in baseball at 5.41 on the season.

Biggest contributor: Carlos Gonzalez, hitting .320 with 20 home runs and 79 RBIs.

Biggest disappointment: Jonathan Sanchez, in 3 starts is 0-3 with a 9.53 ERA.

Biggest surprise: Josh Rutledge, hitting.331 with six home runs, 22 RBIs, in 31 games this season.

Dodgers vs Braves Pre-Game: Dodgers Expecting a Big Show

The Dodgers dropped a tough one to the Braves last night to go to 5-3 during this 10-game road trip. They scored three runs to back a dominate performance from Chris Capuano, only for the bullpen to lose the lead in the eighth inning and lose 4-3 in extras. The loss also puts the Dodgers back into second place, half a game behind the Giants for first place in the National League West.

Tonight will be a solid match-up of two right-handers in what will be the traditional MLB Civil Rights Game on the MLB Network.

The Braves will have Ben Sheets on the mound tonight, who they picked up before the All-Star break to help out their starting rotation. Before this year, Sheets last appeared in a Major League game in 2010 with the Oakland A’s. He sat out all of last season because of numerous arm injuries that also kept him out for the entire 2009 season.

So far he has been brilliant for the Braves in just six starts, posting a 4-2 record with a 2.13 ERA. However, Sheets did get knocked around in his last time out against the Mets on August 12th. He lost the game going 6.0 innings, allowing eight hits, four runs, and striking out five. Tonight Sheets will face a Dodgers team that he hasn’t had much success against, with a career record of 3-6 and a 3.78 ERA.

The Dodgers offense probably feels the same way, as only Juan Uribe and James Loney have had some success against Sheets. Here’s a look:

H/AB

BA

RBI

Juan Uribe

2-for-4

.500

2

James Loney

1-for-3

.333

The “Big Show” Aaron Harang will be throwing in this one for the Dodgers. Harang has been solid for the Dodgers this season as a middle of the rotation guy. He has an overall record of 8-7 with a 3.76 ERA on the season.

In his last outing against the Pirates on August 13 he came out with the win. Harang went 6.0 innings in that game, allowing five hits, two runs, with four strike outs. Tonight he will be facing a similar problem to Sheets, as Harang has a career record of 1-3 against the Braves with a 4.53 ERA. It won’t get any easier either because the Braves’ offense have had much success against this big right-hander.

The Braves have five different players who have hit home runs against Harang in their career.

H/AB

BA

HR

RBI

Michael Bourn

8-for-24

.333

1

3

Chipper Jones

5-for-11

.455

1

4

Brian McCann

6-for-11

.545

1

4

David Ross

2-for-3

.667

2

4

Dan Uggla

7-for-21

.333

1

4

Los Angeles Dodgers (65-55) at Atlanta Braves (70-49)
Aaron Harang (8-7, 3.76) vs. Ben Sheets (4-2, 2.13)
Turner Field, Atlanta, Georgia
4:10 p.m. PST, August 18, 2012
TV: Prime Ticket, MLB Network
Radio: 570 AM (English), 1020 AM (Spanish)
Game-Time Weather: 80 degrees, Sunny

Braves’ Projected Starters
P: Ben Sheets
C: Brian McCann
1B: Freddie Freeman
2B: Dan Uggla
SS: Paul Janish
3B: Chipper Jones
LF: Martin Prado
CF: Michael Bourn
RF: Jason Heyward

Key Bench Players: OF Reed Johnson, UT Eric Hinske

For more on the Braves, check out our pre-series report.

Key to a Dodger Victory:
Crooked Number: The Dodgers offense has been arguably as hot as they’ve been all year during this road trip. They have scored three runs or more in every game resulting in that 5-3 record on the trip. In their last series against the Pirates, they scored 5, 11, 9, and 6 runs in those four games, losing just once. It will be tough to beat the Dodgers if they continue to put up crooked numbers, especially if their pitchers have outings like Capuano’s last night.

Dodgers vs Pirates Pre-Game: Blanton’s Success Could Seal Sweep

The Dodgers racked up 15 hits in a 9-3 win last night over the Pirates. The victory also moved them into sole possession of first place in the National League West, with a Giants loss coming earlier that day. So you could say it was a good day for the Boys in Blue.

Now with a four-game winning streak, the Dodgers can make it five in a row with a four-game sweep of the Pirates with a win today in Pittsburgh.

The Pirates will have A.J. Burnett on the mound to avoid the sweep. Burnett could be the front-runner to win the Comeback Player of the Year award, thanks to a huge turnaround from his miserable 2011 season with the Yankees. He has been the ace pitcher the Pirates have needed during their magical run this year to break a drought of 20 straight losing seasons.

Burnett has transformed back to the pitcher he once was, with a 14-4 record and a 3.32 ERA on the season. After winning games in four consecutive starts, he lost his last start against the Padres on August 11. In that game he managed to only go 5 2/3 innings, allowing nine hits, four runs, while striking out 10.

Burnett has a career record of 3-3 against the Dodgers with a 3.38 ERA.

Joe Blanton will be on the mound and try for a third time to get his first win as a member of the Dodgers. In his last start against the Marlins, he went 5.0 innings, allowing six hits, four runs, in the 7-3 loss. Blanton is now 0-1 with a 4.91 ERA in two starts since joining the Dodgers.

On the season Blanton has an 8-10 record with a 4.61 ERA. Today he will look for his first win against a Pirates team that he is 2-1 against with a 2.31 ERA in his career.

Los Angeles Dodgers (65-53) at Pittsburgh Pirates (64-53)
Joe Blanton (8-10, 4.61) vs. A.J. Burnett (14-4, 3.32)
PNC Park, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
1:05 p.m. PST, August 16, 2012
TV: Prime Ticket
Radio: 570 AM (English), 1020 AM (Spanish)
Game-Time Weather: 86 degrees, Mostly Sunny

Pirates’ Projected Starters:
P: A.J. Burnett
C: Rod Barajas
1B: Gaby Sanchez
2B: Neil Walker
SS: Clint Barmes
3B: Pedro Alvarez
LF: Starling Marte
CF: Andrew McCutchen
RF: Garrett Jones

Key Bench Players: C Michael McKenry, OF Travis Snider

For more on the Pirates, check out our pre-series article.

Key to a Dodger Victory:
Don’t look back: The Dodgers now sit alone atop the National League West division. This means they can focus on just winning games instead of having to watch the scoreboard after every win. It could take pressure off of everyone in the clubhouse knowing that every win could extend their division lead and move them closer to a 2012 postseason berth.

If they keep playing the way they have been, they could be looking to extend their division lead to three or four games in a big series against the Giants next week.

Dodgers vs Marlins Pre-Game: Blanton Searching for First Dodger Win

Last night was the return of Hanley Ramirez to his old stomping grounds in Miami against the Marlins. It was said to be a mixed reaction of boos and cheers from Marlins fans when he came to the plate, although it sounded like more boos on my end of the television. As the game went on, the cheers completely faded away, with Ramirez going 3-for-5 with two RBIs in the 5-2 Dodgers win.

The Dodgers have now won two games in a row, but it’s not a streak unless you win three in a row. That was said by the great manager Lou Brown in the movie Major League, for those of you that apparently live under a rock if you haven’t seen it. (Charlie Sheen movie reference, WINNING.)

Well the Dodgers will go for that third straight win tonight, against the Marlins right-hander Ricky Nolasco.

Nolasco is all over the Marlins franchise record books, as the all-time franchise leader in wins with 72, and in all-time strikeouts with 872. However, this season has been tough for the 29-year-old from Corona, California. During this disastrous season for the Marlins as a whole, Nolasco has an 8-11 record with a 4.95 ERA of his own. It hasn’t gotten much better for him as of late either, with five straight starts allowing four runs or more, resulting in all loses. The last time Nolasco came out of a start with a win was back on July 6 against the St. Louis Cardinals. In his career against the Dodgers team that he will face tonight, Nolasco is 0-2 with a 7.33 ERA against them. So tonight he will try to put an end to his own losing streak and make sure the Dodgers don’t start a streak of their own.

It will be Joe Blanton on the mound tonight against the Marlins, in search of his first win in Dodger Blue. In his first start as a Dodger against the Cubs last week, he went 6.0 innings, allowing five hits, two runs, three walks, with five strikeouts in the no decision. It was a shock that he even walked three hitters, since he’s only done that one other time all year. In that game he did allow a home run, which he has done 23 times this season, tied for the National League lead. Overall Blanton has an 8-9 record this season with a 4.52 ERA. He has faced the Marlins twice this season as a member of the Phillies, coming out with a 1-1 record. In his career against the Marlins he has a 7-4 record with a 3.58 ERA. If Blanton can stay away from the long ball this could end up a memorable night, as he could come out with his first win as a member of the Los Angeles Dodgers.

Los Angeles Dodgers (61-52) at Miami Marlins (51-62)
Joe Blanton (8-9, 4.52) vs Ricky Nolasco (8-11, 4.95)
Marlins Ballpark, Miami, Florida
4:10 p.m. PST, August 11, 2012
TV: KCAL
Radio: 570 AM (English), 1020 AM (Spanish)
Game-Time Weather: 80 degrees, Thunderstorms

Marlins’ Projected Lineup:
SP: Ricky Nolasco
C: John Buck
1B: Carlos Lee
2B: Donovan Solano
SS: Jose Reyes
3B: Greg Dobbs
LF: Bryan Petersen
CF: Justin Ruggiano
RF: Giancarlo Stanton

Key Bench Players: OF Austin Kearns, OF Scott Cousins

For more on the Marlins, check out our pre-series report.

Key to a Dodgers Victory:
It would be nice for the Dodgers to get a dominate showing out of Joe Blanton, mainly to show he could be a great pickup for the starting rotation going forward. By a solid start I mean zero runs allowed, through six or seven innings of work, and that would get the fans on board. In his best start of the season against the Braves on May 3, he went 9.0 innings, allowing three hits, zero runs, and striking out six. I’m not asking for Blanton to be that guy every time out, it would just be nice to show he has it in him to dominate a baseball game in Dodger Blue.

Prediction: Dodgers 4, Marlins 0