Clayton Kershaw looks for his first win of the season on Saturday as the Dodgers battle the Astros in the second game of a three-game set at Minute Maid Park. The Dodgers will try for their third straight win and try to back Kershaw with an offense that has seen its power consolidated in a pair of outfielders this season.
With the exception of a lone A.J. Ellis home run, 12 games ago, Matt Kemp and Andre Ethier have hit all of the Dodgers home runs this season. That duo has 12 of the Dodgers' 13 home runs this season and as Jon Weisman pointed out at Dodger Thoughts, the non-Kemp, non-Ethier Dodgers have a .277 slugging percentage this season.
In the middle infield, the drought has been even longer. The last Dodger second baseman or shortstop to hit a home run was Justin Sellers, who homered at Dodger Stadium against the Astros last August 14. Since then, the Dodgers have played 56 games and their middle infielders have have gone 501 plate appearances without a round tripper. During that span, Dodgers middle infielders have hit .265/.330/.323.
At third base, long considered a power position, the Dodgers have gone without a home run since Russ Mitchell went deep last September 15, 26 games and 110 plate appearances ago. During that span, Dodgers at the hot corner have hit just .200/.280/.242.
Shades Of Piazza & Karros
Kemp and Ethier have both been off to fantastic starts this season, which brings to mind another hot start by a Dodger duo 17 years ago. The 1995 baseball season got off to a late start as the owners and players were still ironing out their differences after the players strike and World Series cancellation of the year before.
But once baseball resumed, Mike Piazza and Eric Karros were on fire. Piazza missed four games early with a strained right hamstring, but through 14 team games he had 22 hits in 41 at-bats, including four home runs. Karros had 28 hits in 59 at-bats, the only Los Angeles Dodger with more hits through 14 games than Kemp's 26 this season. Here was the Dodgers' batting order two through five to start 1995:
2) SS Jose Offerman: .370/.525/.478, 13 runs, 15 walks
3) CF Raul Mondesi: .328/.418/.638, 16 runs, four home runs, 12 RBI
4) C Mike Piazza: .537/.548/.927, 12 runs, four home runs, 13 RBI
5) 1B Eric Karros: .475/.523/.712, 10 runs, eight doubles, two home runs, 17 RBI
Fueled by a .498 on-base percentage by the heart of their order, those Dodgers scored 79 runs in the first 14 games, an average of 5.64 per game. But their start was just 8-6 and in that 14th game Piazza tore a ligament in his left thumb that caused him to miss 22 games. Those 1995 Dodgers did ultimately win the National League West.
Game Time: 4:05 p.m.