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.

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