Kershaw, Dodgers brace for showdown vs. Diamondbacks (Jul 04, 2017)
Two of the hottest teams in baseball over the past month will open a three-game series beginning Tuesday night when the Los Angeles Dodgers host the Arizona Diamondbacks.
The Dodgers (55-29) are 20-4 since June 7, but only gained two games on the Diamondbacks in that span. Los Angeles enters the series 2 1/2 games ahead of Arizona in the NL West standings.
The Diamondbacks (52-31) avoided their first four-game losing streak of the season by defeating the Colorado Rockies 6-2 on Saturday and then took the rubber game 4-3 on Sunday.
"I think we've done a good job this whole year just taking it game by game, day by day, inning by inning, at-bat by at-bat," Diamondbacks first baseman Paul Goldschmidt told the Arizona Republic. "We haven't gotten too caught up if we've been on a winning streak or a losing streak or any of that. It's a testament to all the guys in here and the coaching staff of not getting wrapped up in all that stuff."
Dodgers left-hander Clayton Kershaw (12-2) is scheduled to make his 18th start of the season on Tuesday. He entered the week ranked third in the majors in ERA (2.32), strikeouts (135) and innings pitched (116 1/3).
Kershaw beat the visiting Diamondbacks on April 14, allowing one earned run in 8 1/3 innings and striking out eight in the 7-1 victory. Kershaw has won his last eight decisions since a 4-3 loss to the San Francisco Giants on May 1.
Kershaw has already allowed a career-high 17 home runs this season, one more than he surrendered in 2012. He has been better his last two starts, however, not allowing an earned run over 13 innings while striking out 20 and walking three in those outings.
"He just has that ability where sometimes things might not go right, but the great pitchers have a way of taking it into their own hands and ramping up the intensity," Dodgers manager Dave Roberts said after Kershaw's most recent start, a 6-2 win against the Los Angeles Angels on Thursday.
Kershaw will be opposed by left-hander Patrick Corbin (6-7, 4.76 ERA). Corbin started against Los Angeles on April 15 and allowed five runs (three earned) in six innings of the 8-4 loss at Dodger Stadium.
In that game, Dodgers second baseman Logan Forsythe went 3-for-3 off Corbin before leaving after the fourth inning with a tight hamstring. Forsythe then missed 30 games in April and May with a broken toe, but has been on fire again lately, collecting hits in eight straight at-bats against the San Diego Padres on Friday and Saturday, and reaching base in nine consecutive plate appearances. Forsythe was 10-for-20 with two doubles and four walks last week.
Dodgers catcher/second baseman Austin Barnes, who homered against Corbin in the April 15 win, delivered two home runs and seven RBIs in Friday's win in San Diego, including the first grand slam of his career.