A matchup between the Cardinals’ Lance Lynn and the Dodgers’ Ted
Lilly doesn’t immediately scream pitchers’ duel, but they’re both
throwing like aces these days.
Runs could be hard to come Friday night at Dodger Stadium when
Lynn and Lilly square off to open a series between division
Lynn (6-1, 1.81 ERA) earned a spot in St. Louis’ starting
rotation only because 2005 NL Cy Young Award winner Chris Carpenter
is on the disabled list, but he has taken full advantage of his
opportunity. His ERA is third-best in the majors and his .171
opponent batting average ranks second. Lilly (5-0, 2.11),
meanwhile, is limiting opposing hitters to a .172 average.
Like Lynn, Lilly isn’t the most prominent pitcher in his team’s
rotation – that would be reigning NL Cy Young award winner Clayton
Kershaw – but he has been outstanding in his own right, ranking
eighth in the majors in both ERA and WHIP (0.97).
Despite the sensational starts, Lilly and Lynn are coming off
their respective worst showings of the season.
After posting a 1.41 ERA in his first five starts for the
Dodgers (25-13), Lilly permitted five runs and six hits in 6 1-3
innings against Colorado on Sunday, but received plenty of run
support and emerged with an 11-5 victory. The 14-year veteran’s
winning streak is now up to eight dating to last season, and he is
trying to become the first Dodgers starting pitcher to open 6-0
since Kazuhisa Ishii in 2002.
Although Lilly has pitched in the NL for the last half-dozen
years, he hasn’t faced the Cardinals (22-16) since 2009, while
playing for the Cubs. The left-hander is 4-1 with a 2.79 ERA in his
last eight starts versus St. Louis.
Lynn yielded a season-high three runs – all on Jason Heyward’s
bases-clearing double in the third – and four hits in six innings
of Sunday’s 7-4 loss to Atlanta. The right-hander has never faced
Los Angeles and, after Friday, he’ll still never have faced Matt
Kemp, who is on the DL with a strained left hamstring. However, the
Dodgers proved they can still generate offense without their No. 3
hitter in Thursday’s 8-1 win over San Diego.
“We just seemed to have more energy (Thursday),” Don Mattingly
said of his team, which had totaled three runs while losing its
first two games without Kemp.
Every Dodgers regular except leadoff batter Dee Gordon had at
least one hit Thursday, and Gordon had a sacrifice fly. Andre
Ethier had two hits and drove in his NL-leading 35th run, and could
be poised for another big game. He has hit safely in 12 straight
home games against the Cardinals, batting .468 with eight
St. Louis’ Carlos Beltran ranks second in the NL with 32 RBIs,
but has not started in the last four games because of a right knee
injury. It is uncertain if Beltran, who hit .360 with two homers in
seven games at Dodger Stadium last season, will be in the starting
lineup for the series opener.
The Cardinals arrive in Southern California after suffering a
7-5 loss to San Francisco on Thursday, their fifth defeat in seven
games. St. Louis owns a 2 1/2-game Central lead despite the
Los Angeles, owner of baseball’s best record, won the final four
games of last season’s series with St. Louis after losing the
previous seven meetings between the clubs dating to 2010.