LOS ANGELES -- A day after fielding a lineup with eight right-handed batters against southpaw Madison Bumgarner of the Giants, the Dodgers have four left-handers among their first five batters against Matt Cain.
With Yasiel Puig out of the lineup after getting an MRI on his left thumb, that opens up a spot at the top of the lineup for Dee Gordon, who batted eighth in his last four starts but hit leadoff in Australia when Carl Crawford was back home on paternity leave.
Now, Gordon and Crawford are at the top, followed by cleanup hitter Adrian Gonzalez and Andre Ethier hitting fifth. Hanley Ramirez, hitting third, is the only right-handed batter among the top five in the lineup.
Manager Don Mattingly has been hitting Puig leadoff and Crawford second against left-handed pitchers, and flipping them against right-handers. Mattingly's reasoning for hitting Crawford leadoff had more to do with Ethier moving up to fifth against right-handers, so he couldn't give the opposing manager an opportunity to bring in a left-handed reliever to face three left-handed hitters in a four-batter stretch.
But that was before Matt Kemp was activated from the disabled list. Now, Mattingly is more willing to group the left-handers, especially if Puig is available to pinch hit tonight.
"We looked at a lot of different ways. [The left-handers] either going to be together in the back or they're going to be together in the front," Mattingly said Sunday. "The ones up top, and actually all the way down through there, we're willing to pinch hit for."
But before facing a possible reliever, the lineup will have a few at-bats against Cain, too.
Nobody in baseball has faced Cain more in his career than Ethier (80 plate appearances) and Gonzalez (75), and both hit him well. Ethier has hit .441/.467/.574 (30-for-68) against Cain, while Gonzalez has hit .290/.375/.551 with four home runs.
Crawford is 5-for-15 (.333) with a double and a walk against Cain, and Gordon is 0-for-2 with a walk. Cain has fared better against the big right-handers, with Kemp hitting just .222/.276/.444 in 58 PA and Ramirez .256/.347/.372 in 49 PA.
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