Preview: Giants (69-63) at Dodgers (74-57)
Venue: Dodger Stadium
Date: September 02, 2015 10:10 PM EDT
As Clayton Kershaw nears a career high for strikeouts, his only concern is leading the Los Angeles Dodgers to a victory – something he hasn’t done this season against the San Francisco Giants.
The left-hander will try to help the Dodgers complete a three-game home sweep and perhaps finally earn a win against the Giants on Wednesday night.
Kershaw (11-6, 2.24 ERA) matched a season high with 14 strikeouts while allowing a homer and two other hits in eight innings of Friday’s 4-1 victory over the Chicago Cubs.
‘He’s the best lefty in the game, and the best pitcher in the game as well,’ Chicago catcher Miguel Montero said.
Though that’s a matter of opinion, Kershaw has an 0.95 ERA with 105 strikeouts and eight walks in his last 11 starts, and is 6-0 in the last 10 since losing at Miami on June 27. The NL leader with 236 strikeouts, Kershaw is 13 shy of topping his career best set in 2011.
However, his focus is on helping Los Angeles (74-57) increase its West Division lead over San Francisco to 6 1/2 games with an eighth win in the last nine contests.
‘I take outs as fast as possible,’ Kershaw said. “Leading the league in outs is cool.”
Though he’s recorded his share of outs in three starts against the Giants (69-63) in 2015, Kershaw is 0-2 with a 3.54 ERA in those matchups. Each outing came opposite San Francisco ace Madison Bumgarner, who won’t get the chance for a fourth this season after allowing two runs in seven innings and was outdueled by Zack Greinke in Tuesday’s 2-1 loss.
San Francisco, which has totaled 10 runs during a four-game losing streak, was last swept in a series at Dodger Stadium in May 2013. Since June 21, the Giants are 10-22 on the road.
“You don’t ever lose hope,’ Giants manager Bruce Bochy said. ‘We’re a good run away from getting back in this thing and we’ve done that.’
Bochy hands the ball to Mike Leake (9-6, 3.53), who will try a fourth time to earn his first victory since the Giants acquired him from Cincinnati on July 30. The right-hander, who endured a 15-day disabled list stint with a hamstring strain last month, has a 3.38 ERA during his time in San Francisco.
Facing the Dodgers for the first time this season, Leake is 2-3 with a 5.18 ERA against them as a starter.
Justin Turner is 5 for 10 against Leake, but 1 for 15 in his last five contests. Andre Ethier hit .375 with three home runs in 24 games last month, and is 7 for 15 with a double and two homers off Leake.
Buster Posey is 3 for 9 with a home run against Kershaw this season, and is batting .429 in his last seven games.
Brandon Crawford is 1 for 18 with seven strikeouts against Kershaw, but the All-Star shortstop might not have a chance to end those struggles due to a sore calf suffered after being hit with a pitch in Monday’s 5-4, 14-inning defeat.
“He’s pretty sore,” Bochy told MLB’s official website. “That calf swelled up pretty good when he got hit.”