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The Return of Rafael and Kershaw Meets a New Foe - Game Preview

The Dodgers open a six-game road trip in Chicago tonight, with Clayton Kershaw taking the hill against the Cubs Ryan Dempster.  Only one player on the Cub roster has faced Kershaw before, backup infielder Jeff Baker, a previous NL West opponent in Colorado; in nine PA, Baker has four hits, one double, one home run and one walk.

Kershaw has made six quality starts in his last seven outings with the lone exception being the 1 1/3 inning meltdown against the Brewers on May 4.  Despite that ugly blot in his numbers, over those seven starts, Kershaw has posted a 2.93 ERA, held batters to a batting line of .209 / .309 / .327 / .635, and averaged over 6 IP, nearly 7 K, and just under 3 BB per start in that stretch.

Dempster is putting up a quality season so far.  His April was better than his May, but two of his May starts were quality (7 IP, 3 ER each) and the other were were in the hitter's paradises of Cincinnati and Philadelphia and they weren't all that bad (7 IP, 5 ER and 6 IP, 4 ER, respectively).

With the off day yesterday, Jonathan Broxton, Hong-Chih Kuo, and Ramon Troncoso have all had two days rest in the bullpen.

The Dodgers activated Rafael Furcal from the disabled list today and, per Jon Weisman of Dodger Thoughts (and confirmed by the Dodgers - thanks Eric), placed George Sherrill on the 15-day disabled list with  "mid-back tightness".  Furcal also returns to the leadoff position in the batting order.

The Dodgers starting pitchers have been doing the job:

  Sun Mon Tues Wed Thurs Fri Sat
May 2, 2010         Ely Kuroda Haegar
May 9, 2010 Kershaw Billingsley Ely Kuroda   Ortiz Kershaw
May 16, 2010 Billingsley Ely Kuroda Ortiz Kershaw Billingsley Ely
May 23, 2010 Kuroda   Kershaw Billingsley Ely Kuroda TBA
QS, Dodgers Win Since John Ely was recalled for his second start of the year, the Dodgers have been on a 14-3 run led by their starting pitching who have made 12 quality starts in that span. All starters not named Haegar or Ortiz have pitched at least into the sixth inning in all their starts.
No QS, Dodgers Win
QS, Dodgers Lose
No QS, Dodgers Lose

Not coincidentally, eight of the last nine Dodger games have been played in under three hours, seven in 2:43 or less.

Vin Scully loves to quote the all-time won-loss record between the Dodgers and the St. Louis Cardinals, but the Cubs and Dodgers have reached a similar balance.  According to the Dodgers notes, the all-time record between tonight's opponents is 1,017 - 1,015 in Los Angeles' favor.

Watch for old friend and Dodger prospect father Ivan DeJesus in the first-base coaching box for Chicago.

Here are the lineups:

Dodgers      Cubs
Furcal 2B
C Martin
CF Kemp 1B
LF Ramirez CF
1B Loney
3B Blake RF
RF Paul 3B
2B DeWitt C
P Kershaw


Xeifrank's simulation of today's game is here.

Game Time: 5:05pm


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