Dodgers turn to Kershaw with1st place on line
LOS ANGELES — The Los Angeles Dodgers now have multiple reasons to feel optimistic, rallying for a victory Friday over the team they are chasing in the standings while knowing ace Clayton Kershaw is on the mound Saturday.
The situation started to look discouraging for the Dodgers, who had lost to the Diamondbacks on Thursday to fall two games back in the division, while sitting in third place. But late home runs from Enrique Hernandez and Justin Turner on Friday gave the Dodgers a 3-2 victory and moved them into second place.
A gem from their staff ace on Saturday would move the Dodgers up another rung on the NL West ladder. The Dodgers are one game behind the Diamondbacks and the teams would be sharing the top spot with a Los Angeles victory in the third game of the series.
The Dodgers originally had Kershaw (6-5, 2.39 ERA) scheduled to pitch in Friday’s game, but moved the left-hander to Saturday so they could line up their No. 1 starter in a series next week against another division contender, the Colorado Rockies.
Despite two stints on the disabled list this season and just six victories heading into the final month, Kershaw has looked dominating since coming off the DL on June 23. He is 5-1 with a 2.15 ERA in 12 starts since then, and has not given up more than two earned runs in any of his last seven outings. He is 15-9 lifetime against Arizona with a 2.53 ERA in 29 starts.
Kershaw has started three games against the Diamondbacks this season, and is 1-1 with a 2.37 ERA in those contests.
The Diamondbacks will counter with a left-hander of their own as Patrick Corbin (10-5, 3.15) will take the mound. Corbin has also pitched well of late, delivering five consecutive quality starts, going 3-1 with a 2.70 ERA in that stretch, with a .213 opponents’ batting average.
Even more promising for the Diamondbacks is that Corbin has a 0.98 ERA in three starts against the Dodgers this season. The Dodgers are hitting just .115 against him in those games and have struck out 24 times. He is just 1-0 in those three starts.
Corbin’s career numbers against Los Angeles are not as good, however. He is 4-9 with a 3.78 ERA in 19 career appearances (17 starts) against the Dodgers.
Corbin gave up just two runs over seven innings Monday at San Francisco, but Arizona ended the day with a 2-0 defeat.
“He’s only got 10 wins on the year,” Diamondbacks shortstop Nick Ahmed said about Corbin, according to mlb.com. “That’s our fault as an offense for not giving him enough runs. He’s pitched good enough to easily have 15, 16 wins for us. We did it again (Monday), didn’t score, so hopefully we turn that around these few starts.”
One more reason for the Dodgers to feel good heading into Saturday’s game is that closer Kenley Jansen finally looks like himself again. Jansen had a short disabled-list stint in August because of an irregular heartbeat.
Upon his return, he gave up a run in four consecutive outings, losing two games and blowing a save in another.
But even while giving up a double in the ninth inning to Paul Goldschmidt on Friday, Jansen looked to be in control for the first time in over three weeks.
“It was so much better,” said Jansen, who credited a mechanical adjustment for his improvement. “It was me throwing with my lower body and that’s how I did it, let my lower body carry me to home plate. I felt so much better.”