Playoff game No. 2 is just hours away from beginning — as the Dodgers and Reds prepare to meet for the middle game of a three-game series.
The Reds can clinch the NL Central with a victory today, or a Cardinals loss to the Cubs. Meanwhile, the Dodgers are surely hoping for the latter, which could be combined with a victory today, one that will pull them to just 1.0 game behind the Redbirds heading into the final 10-game stretch.
On the mound for the Dodgers today is Stephen Fife, who has fared quite well despite not owning a Major League victory.
In his last outing he held the Cardinals to two runs on four hits in 5.0 innings, but striking out nine batters, easily a season high, and more than he had sent down on strikes than in his first three starts combined (7).
This will be Fife’s second start on the road, his first since July 27, a victory over the Giants at AT&T Park.
At home, the Dodgers are 0-3 in Fife’s starts.
A great start by Fife today could trigger the Dodgers to send forth Clayton Kershaw in the series finale on Sunday night.
But before the Reds can allow for that to happen, they will send their young phenom Mat Latos to the mound.
While the Reds post a 20-10 record in Latos’ starts, he sits just 12-4, and only 3-1 since August 3, which spans nine starts.
The 24-year-old has struggled with his control as of late, walking three batters per game in September.
Each of his last three starts have resulted in a one-run victory for the Reds, nothing the Dodgers aren’t accustomed to of late.
Los Angeles Dodgers (78-73) at Cincinnati Reds (91-60)
Stephen Fife (0-1, 2.49) vs. Mat Latos (12-4, 3.76)
Great American Ball Park, Cincinnati, Ohio
1:05 p.m. PST, September 22, 2012
Radio: 570 AM (English), 1020 AM (Spanish)
Game-Time Weather: 68 degrees, Mostly Sunny
Dodgers’ Last 10 (4-6): W @ CIN, L @ WAS, W @ WAS, L @ WAS, L vs STL, W vs STL, W vs STL, L vs STL, L @ ARI, L @ ARI.
Reds’ Last 10 (7-3): L vs LA, W @ CHC, W @ CHC, W @ CHC, W @ MIA, L @ MIA, L @ MIA, W vs PIT, W vs PIT, W vs PIT.
- The Dodgers lead the overall series against the Reds by a margin of 1,031-1,002, which includes a 3-1 record this season against Cincinnati.
- Former Dodger Jonathan Broxton had a terrible August for the Reds, posting a 5.00 ERA in 9.0 innings pitched, allowing 11 hits. However, in September, he has turned it all around, throwing 10.0 scoreless innings, and allowing only four hits.
- Matt Kemp has quietly pieced together a 5-game hitting streak, posting a .363 batting average (8-for-22), which included two game-winning hits, one a home run against the Nationals, and the other, a 2-RBI single against the Reds last night.
Key to a Dodger Victory:
- Follow the leader
Since the Dodgers acquired Hanley Ramirez and Adrian Gonzalez, it has seemed as if the team has forgotten who their star player is. There have been games where Andre Ethier has seemed it as well. Players like Shane Victorino have never really surfaced. A.J. Ellis has chosen the wrong time to go cold. Then let’s not forget about Luis Cruz, who has been the chief catalyst of the team.
But, that’s changed on this road trip. Matt Kemp seems to finally be back on track, and could not have picked a better time than the final stretch of the season.
Look for Kemp to rise to the occasion, and continue to mash against the Reds. He is a .375 hitter (39-for-104) with 10 home runs and 23 RBIs in the past against the Reds.
Ignore his .188 (3-for-16) average against Latos. At this point of the season, that won’t matter because Kemp will be playing with a fire in his eyes, looking to propel the Dodgers back into contention.
Best-Case Prediction: Dodgers 4, Reds 2
Worst-Case Prediction: Reds 6, Dodgers 5