Los Angeles Dodgers at Tampa Bay Rays game preview
The Los Angeles Dodgers and their trio of former Tampa Bay Rays may be happy to be going on the road after a dismal homestand.
They’ll send one of them to the mound Tuesday night in Scott Kazmir to face the Rays in the opener of a two-game series.
Los Angeles (13-13) ended a season-high slide at six by capping a seven-game homestand with Sunday’s 1-0 victory over San Diego behind Clayton Kershaw, who struck out 14 in a three-hitter and also singled home the only run.
"We really needed it, the ‘pen needed it and just to get that win, now we have an off day to feel better about ourselves," manager Dave Roberts said.
The Dodgers batted .167 on the homestand and totaled 12 runs while going 3 for 39 with runners in scoring position. Adrian Gonzalez was hitless in 20 at-bats with eight strikeouts, Yasiel Puig was 2 for 24 and Chase Utley 2 for 15.
Kazmir (1-2, 5.76 ERA) suffered one of the defeats at Chavez Ravine, allowing two runs in six innings Wednesday in a 2-0 loss to Miami. The Dodgers lost his fourth straight start after he posted a 9.69 ERA in the previous three.
The left-hander, who pitched for Tampa Bay from 2004-09, is 1-4 with a 5.13 ERA in five starts versus the Rays. He went 0-2 with a 6.55 ERA in two last year, with Evan Longoria going 3 for 5 with a homer against him in those games and Brandon Guyer 3 for 6.
The Rays (11-13) are 5-2 against left-handed starters.
Kazmir joins left fielder Carl Crawford and reliever J.P. Howell as former Rays on the Dodgers. Crawford returned to Tropicana Field in 2011 with Boston and hasn’t been back since, while Howell has yet to return since his departure after 2012.
Tampa Bay will start Matt Moore (1-2, 5.66), who has never faced the Dodgers. The left-hander has faced three of their hitters in Gonzalez (1 for 7 against him), Howie Kendrick (2 for 9) and Crawford (1 for 1).
Moore dropped his second straight start Wednesday by surrendering three runs in seven innings of Wednesday’s 3-1 loss to Baltimore.
Roberts will have the designated hitter at his disposal for the first time. He said he will start lefty-swinging Joc Pederson, who normally sits against southpaws and is 0 for 6 against them in 2016.
While the Dodgers are in a funk at the plate, the Rays average 3.2 runs for baseball’s worst mark. Tampa Bay has totaled seven runs in losing three of four following Sunday’s 5-1 defeat to Toronto.
Longoria homered for the second straight game, although his sixth-inning shot came after he struck out with two runners aboard in the third of a scoreless game. He’s 4 for 21 with runners in scoring position, and four of his five homers have been solo blasts.
"I’d like them to come with runners in scoring position, and I just haven’t been doing a good job of that," Longoria said. "Overall we need to do better as a team at that."
The Dodgers have won six of nine meetings. The Rays were 14-6 in interleague play a year ago for baseball’s second-best mark and have won seven straight at home over the NL.