In a game which felt more like October than August, the Los Angeles Dodgers fell to the Pittsburgh Pirates, 5-4, in the series opener at PNC Park on Friday evening. Clayton Kershaw was not his usual sharp and dominant self and his consecutive scoreless streak was snapped at 37 innings on the first pitch he threw to Gregory Polanco. The Dodgers tied up the game late on a Jimmy Rollins RBI double, but the Pirates beat the Dodgers struggling bullpen with a walk-off win in the bottom of the 10th inning.
The Dodgers look to even up the series in Pittsburgh with Mat Latos on the mound Saturday afternoon. Latos, an important piece from the deadline deal between the Dodgers and the Marlins, will be vying for his first win as a Dodger. In his Dodger debut, a no-decision, the right-hander pitched admirably, tossing six innings and allowing one run on four hits with a strikeout and a walk on 80 pitches. The right-hander struck out a season-high 11 batters against the Rockies in June, but he has yet to pitch past the seventh inning in any of his 17 starts this year.
Over his career, Latos is 5-1 against the Pirates with a 3.13 ERA in 12 starts, and he has struck out 73 Pittsburgh batters in 72 innings. At PNC Park, Latos is 3-0 with a 2.87 ERA in six starts. He’ll have to be very wary of Andrew McCutchen, who has hit three homeruns against Latos in the past and collected two hits and two walks in the series opener on Friday.
The Bucs will be countering with left-hander Francisco Liriano (7-6, 2.92 ERA) who has struck out 140 batters in 126 1/3 innings this season, which is eighth-best in the National League. Liriano has always given the Dodgers a hard time, going 3-0 against the Boys in Blue with a 1.37 ERA in three career games. Liriano has only allowed 11 homeruns to left-handed batters (two this season) over his 10 seasons in the Majors.
Interestingly, the last Dodgers to have hit a homerun off of Francisco Liriano were Nomar Garciaparra and Jeff Kent back in 2006 when Liriano was with the Twins. Liriano’s last start versus the Cubs was rained out after he put in two innings of work, which were not counted. Liriano went 3-0 in July with a 2.03 ERA, and he has been very consistent for the Pirates of late.
Jimmy Rollins has been red hot on the current road trip which began with an ovation-filled series in Philadelphia. On Friday night, Rollins collected three hits and drove in two runs with a walk in the extra-inning loss to the Pirates. Jon Weisman of Dodger Insider took a look at the veteran shortstop’s recent streak:
Jimmy Rollins’ past 12 2/3 games: 17 for 48 with four doubles, triple, three homers, six walks, 2-2 stealing, .354/.426/.750/1.176.
— Dodger Insider (@DodgerInsider) August 8, 2015
The Dodgers go into Saturday three games ahead of San Francisco in the NL West. They are 2-2 on the current road trip and 25-29 on the road for the season. A.J. Ellis gets the start behind the plate for the Dodgers and bats seventh. Scott Van Slyke and Enrique Hernandez will be in left and center field with Alex Guerrero at third base.
Saturday’s 1:05 P.M. PT game will be televised on FS1 with no blackout restrictions.
SS: Jimmy Rollins
2B: Howie Kendrick
1B: Adrian Gonzalez
LF: Scott Van Slyke
RF: Yasiel Puig
CF: Enrique Hernandez
C: A.J. Ellis
3B: Alex Guerrero
P: Mat Latos
RF: Gregory Polanco
LF: Starling Marte
CF: Andrew McCutchen
3B: Aramis Ramirez
SS: Jung Ho Kang
2B: Neil Walker
1B: Pedro Alvarez
C: Francisco Cervelli
P: Francisco Liriano