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Preview: Dodgers (80-59) at Diamondbacks (67-73)
Venue: Chase Field
Date: September 11, 2015 9:40 PM EDT
The Los Angeles Dodgers have underwhelmed on the road for most of the season, but their improvement of late could bode well for the playoffs.
They’ll look to continue that recent success Friday night when they open a three-game series with the Arizona Diamondbacks at Chase Field.
Having all but wrapped up a third consecutive NL West title with an 8 1/2-game edge over San Francisco, a World Series run could feasibly see the Dodgers concede home field in every round. They’re essentially competing with the New York Mets for that advantage in the Division Series, and St. Louis is eight games ahead for the league’s best record. The AL also owns home field in the World Series after winning the All-Star Game.
Los Angeles (80-59) is 33-38 on the road, the second-worst record among all division leaders. But the Dodgers are 8-2 away from home during a 13-3 stretch overall.
“Earlier in the year, we didn’t play well on the road, so it’s nice to win some series,” said Justin Turner, who is second on the club with 52 RBIs.
The Dodgers have owned this series of late, winning 31 of 41 and nine of 10. Yasmani Grandal is batting .400 with five homers and eight RBIs in his 10 matchups this year. He has missed the last four games due to shoulder inflammation, but is expected to be day to day for the rest of the year.
Alex Wood (10-9, 3.51 ERA) comes off his best outing since joining Los Angeles, limiting San Diego to three hits over seven innings of a 2-0 road victory Saturday. That marked the first time he made it through the seventh with the Dodgers.
“As a starter, that’s what you pride yourself on – going deep into ballgames, giving guys the best chance to win,” Wood told MLB’s official website. “(I was) able to show them that’s who I could be tonight.”
He gave up at least three runs in each of his first four games with his new club but owns a 1.45 ERA in the last three. Opponents are hitting .247 off Wood since the trade compared to .288 with Atlanta.
Wood shut down the Diamondbacks while with the Braves on June 1, yielding one run over eight innings in an 8-1 win.
The Diamondbacks (67-73) have dropped 12 of 17, though they helped the Dodgers by taking two of three from San Francisco this week.
Paul Goldschmidt has been stuck in a slump that might end up costing him a batting title. He’s hitting .174 with 16 strikeouts in his last 12 games, dropping his average from .331 – third-highest in baseball – to .317. He’s 3 for 6 with a homer against Wood.
Robbie Ray (3-11, 3.72) strung together two consecutive solid road starts, allowing a combined three runs over 10 2-3 innings against Colorado and the Chicago Cubs. He’s still seeking his first win since July 7, however, having gone 0-7 with a 5.23 ERA in his last 10 turns. He has 57 strikeouts over 51 2-3 innings during that winless slump, but has also walked 26.
Ray is also still looking for his first home victory, going 0-5 with a 5.60 ERA in seven games at Chase Field compared to a 2.71 mark on the road. He surrendered a season-high six runs over just three innings in his last home outing, a 9-1 loss to St. Louis on Aug. 25.