How must the mentality of a first-place ball-club think after witnessing their ace pitcher allow three home runs for the first time in his career? While discouraging, you have to bet that it’s merely an after thought given that it was in Coors, and understanding fully that Kershaw is a fast learner. After all, the Dodgers are too, posting a 5-2 record in games following defeat. They will be looking to do the same today against Paul Maholm and the Chicago Cubs when they send Chad Billingsley to the mound. In his last outing, Billingsley drew the task of matching up against young phenom Stephen Strasburg, and not only hung with the ace of the Washington Nationals, but kept his time alive just enough for them to pull out a victory. Billingsley was phenomenal in bouncing back from a horrendous start, and lowered his ERA down to 2.64, bringing him to this start against a Cubs team that he has defeated in three straight starts.
Los Angeles Dodgers (17-8) at Chicago Cubs (9-16)
11:20 PM PST, May 4, 2012
Wrigley Field, Chicago, Illinois
TV: Prime Ticket
Radio: 570 AM (English), 1020 AM (Spanish)
Game-Time Weather: 64 degrees, partly cloudy
For more information on the Cubs, check out our pre-series report.
Dodgers Last 10: (5-5): L @ COL, W @ COL, L @ COL, W vs WAS, W vs WAS, W vs WAS, L vs ATL, L vs ATL, W vs ATL, L @ HOU.
Cubs Last 10: (5-5): L @ CIN, W @ CIN, L @ PHI, W @ PHI, L @ PHI, W @ PHI, L vs STL, W vs STL, W vs STL, L vs CIN.
- The Dodgers have split the overall series against the Cubs, each winning 943 games. The Dodgers were 3-3 against Chicago last season, including 2-1 at Wrigley Field.
- The Dodgers rotation is 11-3 with a 3.01 ERA.
- Cubs starter Paul Maholm is 0-5 with a 5.33 ERA in eight starts against the Dodgers, walking 25 batters, and striking out 21 in 49.0 innings.
Keys to a Dodger Victory:
- History Repeats Itself
Maholm is a train-wreck against the Dodgers. His last outing against Los Angeles saw him surrender two runs on five hits in 6.0 innings thanks to five walks. He has allowed a home run in every other start against the Dodgers, not allowing one last year, a sign that if the number don’t lie indicate that somebody is taking him deep.
- Three Runs Needed…At Least
The Dodgers have shown that their pitching staff is very capable of contending with those of the rest of Major League Baseball, but they require the offense to do their part. When the team scores 0-2 runs, the pitchers are 1-2 with a 3.53 ERA. 3-5 runs yields a 6-1 record with a 3.03 ERA. Finally 6+ runs gets the pitching staff so confident that they re-pay coach Mattingly with a 4-0 record and a 2.52 ERA.
- Beat the Heat
For the duration of this series, the Dodgers will play games in the early afternoon (Chicago time, morning in Los Angeles.) In eight games this season, the team finds itself with a 5-3 record with a 4.28 ERA, this despite a .249 batting average, compared to one of .205 in the night time. Starter Chad Billingsley has fared better during the day, posting a record of 24-17 with a 3.35 ERA. Combine that with Matt Kemp‘s success, who is hitting .312 with 48 home runs in daylight, and the Dodgers have a terrific chance of conquest today.
Best-Case Prediction: Dodgers 4, Cubs 1
Worst-Case: Cubs 3, Dodgers 2