Thursday night at Chavez Ravine saw the Dodgers‘ lineup at full strength for the first time this season, and boy, did it deliver. The Dodgers hit seven home runs, two each by Yasiel Puig and Joc Pederson. Newly acquired Brian Dozier hit his second homer in as many days since joining the team. Justin Turner in his first game off the DL also joined in the fun. The team scored 21 runs total—a Dodger Stadium record. Thanks to losses by both the Colorado Rockies and Arizona Diamondbacks, Los Angeles is back in sole possession of first place.
This lineup, now finally healthy, and with the additions of Dozier and Manny Machado, is stacked. There isn’t pressure on any one guy, and any one of them is capable of taking a pitcher deep at any time. It’s deeper than last year’s lineup, as is the bench. If one or two players slump, there’s plenty more to pick them up. The next few months should be fun to watch.
The first test of this high-powered offense is quite tough—Justin Verlander and the Houston Astros. Last year’s World Series opponents visit Dodger Stadium for a three-day reminder of what might have been.
The Astros will be without two of their stars, as second baseman Carlos Correa and shortstop Jose Altuve are both on the DL. Altuve is suffering from a knee issue and is on the shelf for the first time in his career. Correa is dealing with back trouble. The Astros are 69-41, first place in the American League West with a five game lead over the Oakland Athletics.
Alex Bregman leads the Astros offense with 22 homers and 35 doubles. Evan Gattis has 21 homers and George Springer has 18. They are 4-6 iover their last 10 games, but have a two-game winning streak at the moment.
Before Friday night’s game, Andre Ethier will be lauded for his wonderful Dodgers career as he announces his retirement. Fittingly, his last hit as a Dodger was in the World Series, driving in the only run for Los Angeles in Game 7.
Friday night’s matchup will see Verlander facing off against Alex Wood. Verlander is 10-6 on the year, with a 2.24 ERA and 190 strikeouts. However, he has been faltering as of late, getting just one win in his last eight starts, tallying a 3.54 ERA during that time. Wood is coming off a one-hit, 5-2/3 inning outing against the Atlanta Braves.
Saturday will feature Lance McCullers Jr.going up against Kenta Maeda. McCullers is also 10-6 on the year, but is 0-3 with a 9.22 ERA in his last three starts, allowing 16 hits and walking 10 batters. Maeda is coming off a poor start of his own, when he allowed four runs in 4-2/3 innings against the Brewers. The Dodgers are 8-10 when he starts this season.
Sunday’s matinee will be Gerrit Cole and Walker Buehler. Cole joined the Astros this past winter and has seen a bit of a resurgence in his career. He’s 10-3 on the year, with a 2.55 ERA and 194 strikeouts. Puig, Pederson and Turner all hit Cole well, with Puig’s batting average against being the lowest of the three at .455. Buehler looked much better in his last outing, when he only allowed one run in seven innings. Sunday will also see closer Robert Osuna join the Astros, their controversial trade deadline pick up. Osuna has been on a 75-day suspension for domestic violence.
Nothing is going to get Dodger fans over what happened last year in the World Series, but keeping the huge offensive explosion going against the Astros, and perhaps a sweep, might help a little.