Dodgers seeking third straight over Diamondbacks (Apr 16, 2017)
Not much separates the Arizona Diamondbacks and the Los Angeles Dodgers. Only 375 miles or so along Interstate 10.
The Diamondbacks’ offense ranks sixth, the Dodgers seventh. Both teams are 7-5 overall and 6-4 in their last 10 games. After beating the Diamondbacks 8-4 on Saturday, Los Angeles sports a 5-1 record at Dodger Stadium entering Sunday’s series finale.
Conversely, the Diamondbacks own a 6-1 mark at Chase Field. Both teams struggle on the road.
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The big difference between the two lies in starting pitching and any staff with Clayton Kershaw probably will have the advantage.
On Sunday, the Dodgers’ rotation gets a huge boost with the return of left-hander Rich Hill, who will be activated off the disabled list after missing one turn with a recurring finger blister.
Hill’s signature curveball is hard to hit, but it’s also hard to throw without tearing up his finger. He was placed on the disabled list after his season-opening start against the San Diego Padres. In that game, he gave up one run on two hits over five innings.
The 37-year-old Hill (1-0, 1.80 ERA) blames the blister on moisture on his fingertips.
“As you get older, I noticed I sweat more,” he said. “I don’t know if that has something to do with more moisture.”
Hill threw a 35-pitch bullpen session on Thursday and declared himself fit to rejoin the rotation.
Los Angeles has won the first two games of this four-game series. While Hill will toe the rubber for the Dodgers on Sunday, Taijuan Walker will get the ball as Arizona looks to snap a season-long three-game slide.
Walker is an unimpressive 1-1 with a 4.92 ERA. He came to Arizona as part of the deal that sent Jean Segura to Seattle and could be pressing.
He allowed three runs (two earned) in five-plus innings against the San Francisco Giants on Monday. In his first start, he was charged with four runs in six innings against the Giants at Chase Field.
And while Hill is worried about sweating, Arizona’s starter on Sunday has his own concerns — like how to recover from beaning an opponent.
Part of any pitcher’s success is being able to pitch inside, and Walker was clearly upset after plunking Giants catcher Buster Posey, who suffered a concussion and went on the seven-day disabled list.
Walker admitted to being shook up, but by Saturday seemed prepared to get back to work.
“It’s tough,” he told the Arizona Republic. “I do like to pitch in, and it’s easier for me to pitch in to lefties, but to righties, there’s just some guys you have to pitch in to. I can’t be afraid, I guess, of hitting someone. If I go in there with confidence, I should be able to locate. If I go in there scared, that’s when things can kind of get wild.”
What might be scarier for Walker is facing a resurgent Yasiel Puig. On Saturday, Puig belted his fourth home run in 12 games and went 3-for-3 with four RBIs.
“There were a lot of good things there,” manager Dave Roberts told the Los Angeles Daily News of Puig, who also had a run-scoring sacrifice fly, two singles and walk.
In 36 at-bats this season, Puig has three homers and six RBIs. Last season in 334 at-bats, Puig recorded 11 homers and 45 RBIs.
The Dodgers will sit second baseman Logan Forsythe on Sunday. Forsythe left Saturday’s game with tightness in his right hamstring.
“My level of concern is not very high,” Forsythe told Los Angeles Times after Saturday’s win. “It feels fine right now.”