While the rest of the league was out playing fairly meaningless interleague games this weekend, the Dodgers have been throwing down fisticuffs with the St. Louis Cardinals in a battle of two first place teams.
Many have discredited the Dodgers’ league-best 27-13 record by saying they’ve been beating up the “weak” NL West all season, but today they have a chance to sweep a first place Cardinal team that has played really well all season.
The Dodgers will turn to Chad Billingsley (2-3), who had a rough start against the Arizona Diamondbacks Tuesday, to face-off against Kyle Lohse (5-1), who didn’t figure in the decision and allowed a season-high five runs against the Chicago Cubs his last start.
St. Louis Cardinals (22-18) at Los Angeles Dodgers (27-13)
5:10 p.m. PST, May 20, 2012
Dodger Stadium, Los Angeles, California
Radio: 570 AM (English), 1020 AM (Spanish)
Game-Time Weather: 75 degrees, Sunny
Keys To Dodger Victory:
Pitching: Billingsley is going to have to shake off his last two outings where he only lasted four innings both times. Although he hasn’t won a game since his second start April 11, he has pitched really well in a lot of his starts. The problem is he has also had some really bad games. It’s the old story of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, which Billingsley will show up? When the good Billingsley shows up, he has great command of his fastball and keeps his walk total low. When Mr. Hyde shows up, Billingsley can’t find the strike zone, he lets his frustration get the best of him and he doesn’t make it past the fourth inning. The Dodgers hope not for the latter.
Hitting: The Cardinals’ Lohse didn’t have his best pitching performance last time out, but he has been key to St. Louis’ success all season. Matt Kemp crushed Lohse last year, batting .600 with four RBI’s, but, you know. So, Andre Ethier has had the next most success against Lohse, batting .333 lifetime in the nine at-bats he’s had against him. The Dodgers roughed him up for eight earned runs last time they met and Lohse only lasted three innings. If the Dodgers can ride the offensive momentum from last night’s game, they can expect more of the same this time around.
Wishing You Were Here: Matt Kemp blasted a three-run home run against Lohse in their August meeting last year.
The Wild Card: Justin Sellers went 3-for-5 with one RBI last time he faced Lohse.
Shutting it Down: With Clayton Kershaw‘s dominant complete game shutout last night, he lowered his ERA to 1.90, the lowest it has been since April 27 (1.78).