Dodgers Gave Leake First Win, Now Look To Hand Him First Loss

The Dodgers continue running the 1975 World Series gauntlet this week with a second game in Cincinnati, in a ballpark in which they have averaged 10 runs per game this season.  Keeping in line with that series, the Reds were shutout in the first game.  We can only hope the second game doesn't yield another similar result.

Mike Leake has been a pleasant surprise so far this season for the Reds.  He was drafted eighth overall last season out of Arizona State, and made the starting rotation this spring without pitching an inning in the minors.  Leake has been a ground ball machine, allowing a ground ball rate of 51.7% of his balls in play, 20th best among the 110 major league pitchers with enough innings to qualify.  Leake is 5-0 with a 2.68 ERA, a 3.95 FIP, and 4.21 x-FIP, and is the first Reds' pitcher ever to go undefeated through his first 12 MLB starts.  He got his first major league win against the Dodgers on April 22, although he did give up five runs in seven innings. 

That April 22 game was a game of notable events:

  • It was the last start for Vicente Padilla, who will be activated from the disabled list Saturday to start in Boston. 
  • Garret Anderson hit a two-run pinch-hit home run that temporarily gave the Dodgers the lead
  • Hong-Chih Kuo allowed a pair of runs in his first appearance of the season, and he hasn't allowed a run since, a span of 18 games and 17 2/3 innings

The Dodgers for a while had the honor of handing Leake his worst start of the season, until his last start.  Leake pitched at least six innings in each of his first 11 starts, but the Giants touched him for five runs in 15 baserunners in 4 1/3 innings last Thursday.  Leake is pitching today on five days rest, for the sixth time this season.  He has pitched seven innings in four of his previous five starts with extra rest.

Leake will be the ninth starting pitcher the Dodgers have faced more than once this season.  The Dodgers have fared well in their second time around, scoring at least four runs against seven of the previous eight starters in their second crack at him (the only exception was Edwin Jackson's nine scoreless innings at Dodger Stadium):

Starting Pitchers Facing Dodgers More Than Once
Starts G IP H R ER BB K ERA LA Rec
1st Time Facing LA
8 47.1 58 28 26 18 33 4.94 5-3
2nd Time Facing LA    
8 49.0 59 29 29 19 43 5.33 7-1

Clayton Kershaw is coming off a season-high 10-strikeout performance against the Cardinals, the fifth double-digit strikeout game of his career.  Kershaw has had at least as many strikeouts as innings pitched in 10 of 13 starts this season, and for the season has 90 strikeouts in 77 2/3 innings.  For those keeping track of such things, Kershaw is seven strikeouts behind Adam Wainwright and Dan Haren for the major league lead.  If Lawler's Law (first team to score 100 points, wins) can be applied to baseball, maybe Kershaw can clinch the strikeout title by running another 10-K tonight.

Tonight is the first start ever for Kershaw on exactly six days rest.

Kemp Starting Anew

The last time the Dodgers played in Cincinnati this season, Matt Kemp was tearing up the league.  He led the majors in home runs, runs, and RBI after that series, but struggled mightily since.

Matt Kemp Coming Into Cincinnati
Split G PA HR R RBI BA/OBP/SLG
First 15 games 15 74 7 20 20 .333/.405/.730
Next 48 games 48 207 4 27 13 .242/.300/.384

Kemp broke an 0-for-16 slump last night with a pair of hits and a sacrifice fly, driving in two runs.  I'm convinced Kemp left his mojo in The Queen City back in April, but now he has it back.  That's my story, and I'm sticking to it.

Fathers Day At Dodger Stadium

The Dodgers may be on the road this weekend, but you can still head to Dodger Stadium on Sunday for a special event.  Here are the details from the Dodgers:

The Los Angeles Dodgers invite families on to the field at Dodger Stadium for the seventh annual Father’s Day Catch on June 20.  The event, which will be held from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m., is free and provides families with the opportunity to play catch at Dodger Stadium in celebration of Father’s Day. Dodger partner Farmer John is donating Dodger dogs for the occasion, Sparkletts will provide water bottles and Coca Cola will supply PowerAde.

Fans can park for free at Dodger Stadium on Father’s Day. The Sunset Gate opens at 10 a.m. and families enter through the center field gates. Music, merchandise, the Dodger Ticket truck and Dodger fan clubs will be on site for the event. The first 3,000 fans in attendance will get a complimentary Dodger dog.

Notes

  • The Dodgers officially placed Chad Billingsley on the 15-day disabled list, retroactive to Saturday, and called up Travis Schlichting, who figures to be around until Padilla is activated Saturday
  • James Loney has five doubles in his last two games, the most doubles ever over a two-game span by a Los Angeles Dodger.  He is the sixth LA Dodger to have two doubles in consecutive games.
  • Loney tied his career high last night with four hits, the second time in a week he has done so.  Loney has 12 hits, including six doubles, in his last 21 at-bats.
  • Rafael Furcal tied his career high last night with five hits, and like Loney is working on quite a month of June.  Furcal began the month with no hits in 11 at-bats, but since then has hit .386/.438/.682 with 17 hits, including seven extra-base hits, in 10 games
  • Manny Ramirez has followed his forgettable .200/.310/.333 May with a resurgent .325/.372/.600 June, including three hits in each of his last two games.
  • The Dodgers have signed Claudio Vargas to a minor league deal, and he is now on the Albuquerque Isotopes' roster.  He was released by Milwaukee on June 4, after allowing 16 runs in 19 2/3 innings in 17 relief appearances.  The Dodgers signed Vargas before last season, and traded him to the Brewers in July for catcher Vinny Rottino
  • Felix Doubront, a 22-year old with four starts above Double A, will make his major league debut Friday, starting for the Red Sox, per Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe.  Doubront will face Carlos Monasterios, a 24-year old with six career starts above Single A.
  • If you haven't seen Andre Ethier's SportsCenter commercial, you can do so here.  Now, you can now watch behind the scenes footage of Ethier shooting the commercial here.

Game Time: 4:10 p.m

TV:  Prime Ticket

Baseball Reference Preview | Box Score | Gameday

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