As a result of losing four of six games after the All-Star break, the Los Angeles Dodgers have slipped from their position atop the National League standings.
The Dodgers begin a three-game series Friday against the San Francisco Giants, who hold a 1.5-game lead over the Dodgers for first place in the NL West.
After trailing by as many as 9.5 games, the Dodgers used a strong June to climb the standings and have traded places with their rival since catching them. Andre Ethier discussed the nature of facing the Giants, via Bill Plunkett of the OC Register:
It’s not only the rivalry but when they’re the team you’re kind of neck and neck with in the standings, the series means a lot more. Instead of looking at the scoreboard and figuring a half-game here and a half-game there, you’re going head to head and you could see a big swing one way or the other. So it’s definitely a big series.”
Manager Don Mattingly used the All-Star break to reset his starting rotation so that Zack Greinke, Clayton Kershaw and Hyun-Jin Ryu would take the ball this weekend.
With little separation between the two teams in the standings, Mattingly is looking forward to sending his top pitchers to the mound:
I think it’s an important series. I don’t want to downplay the series,” Mattingly said. “I think when you’ve got a chance to set your rotation and you’re playing the team you’re kind of bumping heads with it it’s nice to go with your guys.”
While Mattingly may have aligned his rotation with this series in mind, he doesn’t view it as season-defining:
We’re not going to get caught in the trap of saying if we don’t play well there, the season’s over and we start throwing up the panic flags. We’re not going to do that. We’re going to get ready to play. I assume we’re going to play well.”
Barring a sweep of the series, the Dodgers will remain in second place in the division. They enter Friday with a 3-7 record against the Giants this season.
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