Los Angeles Dodgers at Tampa Bay Rays game preview
For the Los Angeles Dodgers, there's no place like anywhere but home.
They hope their offense continues to look more comfortable on the road Wednesday night as they close a two-game set with the Tampa Bay Rays at Tropicana Field.
Los Angeles (14-13) dropped the first six of a seven-game homestand before Sunday's 1-0 victory against San Diego. It still marked the Dodgers' seventh straight contest with fewer than four runs, however.
While they're averaging just 2.7 runs per game at Chavez Ravine, they're averaging 5.8 elsewhere with a 9-5 record following Tuesday's 10-5 victory over the Rays.
No Dodger is more emblematic of that contrast than Adrian Gonzalez, who was 2 for 5 after going hitless in 20 at-bats in the last seven games. He's hit safely in all but one road game while batting .429, and 13 of his 15 RBIs have come away from home.
The change of scenery seemed to help Howie Kendrick as well. He was 1 for 16 on the homestand before a 4-for-5 performance Tuesday with his first two RBIs of the season. Kendrick improved to 20 for 52 (.385) in interleague play as a member of the Dodgers.
Joc Pederson, Yasiel Puig and Trayce Thompson all homered, marking just the third time Los Angeles hit multiple home runs in its last 16 games.
Kendrick and Gonzalez are the lone Dodgers with multiple at-bats against Tampa Bay starter Drew Smyly. Kendrick is 3 for 9 with a home run and a double off the left-hander.
Smyly (1-3, 2.60 ERA) has been much better than his record indicates, however. He owns a 1.61 ERA with 36 strikeouts over 28 innings in four starts since his season debut April 4 when he allowed five runs over 6 2-3 innings in a 5-3 loss to Toronto. His 41 strikeouts for the month tied David Price's April club record set two years ago.
"He's gone out and given us a chance to win, and certain games he's been borderline dominating," manager Kevin Cash told MLB's official website.
The Rays (11-14) scored two more runs Tuesday than their total from the previous three losses, but still struck out 10 times and were 1 for 6 with runners in scoring position. They're 5 for 41 in those situations over the last six contests.
Smyly is all too familiar with his teammates' ineptitude at the plate, receiving zero runs of support in three of five outings.
"It's frustrating when you're losing tight ballgames," he said. "But the offense is out of my control. I try to keep it as close as possible."
Los Angeles counters with fellow southpaw Alex Wood (1-2, 4.82). Unlike the Dodgers' offense, Wood has been abysmal in three road starts, posting an 0-2 record and 8.36 ERA with eight walks over 14 innings. He dominated at home in Friday's 5-1 loss to San Diego, fanning nine while limiting the Padres to one run in seven innings.
"He was just throwing every pitch with conviction," catcher Yasmani Grandal said. "He wasn't thinking too much, just pitching his game."
The Rays are one of six teams Wood hasn't faced.