Series Preview: Dodgers Host Pirates in Final Leg of Homestand

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(Mandatory Credit: Joe Camporeale/USA TODAY Sports)

Heading into the final series of their current homestand, the Dodgers are still lingering in second place in the West division, currently sitting 2-1/2 games behind the Diamondbacks. In the first two contests against the Rockies over the weekend, the club’s offense was dormant; however, in the finale, the bats woke up and the Boys in Blue were able to salvage a 6-4 victory.

Beginning on Monday, the Pirates come to town, having won four of their last six games at the expense of the Mets and the Padres. Still, Pittsburgh is sitting in fourth place in the NL Central with a 40-43 record.

After a brief cold spell, outfielder Matt Kemp found his offensive groove once again on Sunday. His eighth-inning solo homer to deep center off Adam Ottavino put the Dodgers ahead to stay, 5-4. Kemp finished a triple shy of hitting for the cycle and drove in four runs. The 33-year-old veteran leads Los Angeles in batting average, hits, RBI and OBP, trailing only Max Muncy and Cody Bellinger for the team lead in long balls.

The Pirates began the season in impressive fashion, having won 11 of their first 15 to gain early control of the division, but they have settled towards the bottom of the decision since. Rookie outfielder Austin Meadows was one of the key producers on offense early. He hit over .400 through the month of May, but has posted just a .258 average after June 1. Outfielder Gregory Polanco leads the Bucs with 11 home runs and 41 RBI; however, his .234 average is among the worst on the club as far as the regular players go. Left fielder Corey Dickerson leads the Pirates with a .296 average and 83 base hits.

In terms of the starting pitching, the Pirates will send young righty Nick Kingham to the bump in the opener to face Los Angeles southpaw Alex Wood. Kingham will be recalled from Triple-A Indianapolis to make his first big league start since June 9. Earlier in the season, the 26-year-old recorded a 2-3 record with a 3.82 ERA and a 0.98 WHIP over six starts. Wood went seven innings against the Cubs in his last start on Wednesday, his longest outing since his season debut on March 30. So far this year, Wood has posted a 4-5 record with a 4.00 ERA, but he’s 3-0 with a 2.41 ERA over his last three starts.

On Tuesday, right-hander Ivan Nova will square-off against Los Angeles ace Clayton Kershaw. Nova has been effective since from returning from the DL in mid-June, having gone 2-0 with a 1.75 ERA over his last four starts. Kershaw will throw on regular rest after having pitched five impressive innings against the Cubs last Thursday. He allowed just one run on four hits while striking out six batters in what was his second start since his return from the shelf with a lower-back strain.

The Dodgers have yet to officially announce a starter for the finale on Independence Day, but it looks like it will be veteran lefty Rich Hill facing Pittsburgh righty Joe Musgrove. The 25-year-old Musgrove has been struggling lately, but he was impressive in his last outing against the Padres on Friday when he threw seven scoreless innings, collecting his third win of the year. Hill has posted an 0-1 record with a 2.55 ERA since returning from a stint on the disabled list on June 19 because of recurring blister issues.

First pitches for the first two contests of the series will be 7:10 p.m. Los Angeles time, while the finale on July 4 is scheduled for a 5:10 p.m. Pacific start time.

As far as the rest of the NL West goes, the first-place Diamondbacks will be hosting the Cardinals for a three-game set starting on Monday, while the Giants will be battling the Rockies in a three-game affair also beginning on Monday. The Padres will be travelling to Oakland to face the Athletics for a short two-game series starting on Tuesday.

 

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