It’s hard to comprehend that over the course of a 162-game / 52-series season that one single three-game series can determine the fate of a major league baseball team, but this is exactly the feeling that many Dodger fans have about this weekend’s series between the Dodgers and Giants at AT&T Park.
At stake is first place in the National League West, a division that the Giants once owned a commanding 9.5-game lead in as recently as a month ago but now lead by only 1.5 games. And even though the Dodgers will be sending their top three starters to the mound in Zack Greinke, Clayton Kershaw and Hyun-jin Ryu respectively, 2014 has not been kind to the Dodgers in their 10 previous meetings with the Giants. In those 10 games, the Dodgers are a paltry 3-7 against The Hated One with nine games remaining – six in San Francisco and three at Dodger Stadium.
When you compare the two starting line-ups, it’s hard to believe that the Dodgers are not running away with the division. Unfortunately, the Dodgers have yet to have their power-laden team all hitting at the same time; or even several of them hitting at the same time. And while this can certainly change at a moments notice, the Dodgers have yet to string together even one four-game winning streak this season; and it won’t happen this weekend even with a series sweep as the Dodgers enter play tonight having lost two-straight. The silver lining to this dark cloud (if you can call it that) is that they have yet to lose four straight this season either.
The Dodgers enter tonight’s contest with sluggers Yasiel Puig and Hanley Ramirez still nursing hand injuries, the result of poor pitching control by the St. Louis Cardinals – a team that supposedly has great pitching. That being said, it is hard to imagine that Dodgers manager Don Mattingly will rest one or both of his star players for this extremely crucial series – a series that he had in mind when he set his post All-Star break pitching rotation.
With Dodgers first baseman Adrian Gonzalez beginning to heat up and with outfielder Matt Kemp beginning to string together multi-hit games in between his team-leading 93 strikeouts, the Dodgers are poised to go on a winning streak if they can get Andre Ethier, Carl Crawford and Ramirez to start hitting as well.
Needless to say, all eyes will be on this weekend’s crucial series between two of baseball’s oldest and fiercest rivals – well, at least for those who aren’t caught up in the ridiculous Time Warner Cable / DirecTV dispute or MLB.TV’s blackouts, that is.