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Kemp, Dodgers Begin Gauntlet In D.C.

Matt Kemp has seven home runs in 70 games since this April 28 game-winning shot.
Matt Kemp has seven home runs in 70 games since this April 28 game-winning shot.

The Herm Winningham Gauntlet begins for the Dodgers on Tuesday, with the Nationals and Reds on tap this week. The Dodgers open a three-game series in Washington D.C. against the Nats.

The Dodgers also played the Nationals last September, and rain wreaked havoc with the schedule. One of the games was canceled and because both teams were well out of any pennant race was not made up. Rain is back this year, and the Dodgers canceled batting practice on Tuesday because of it, per Jaime Jarrin.

However with the Dodgers fighting for the second wild card and, to a lesser extent, the Nats fighting for the National League's best record, one would think these three games are getting played somehow, some way. Perhaps they can emulate Monday's game at Wrigley Field between the Pirates and Cubs, which started at 10:41 p.m. local time.

When Tuesday's game does begin, the Dodgers will look for their fourth win in as many games against Washington this year. But that April sweep of the Nationals at Dodger Stadium seems so long ago.

Matt Kemp hit a walk-off home run on April 28 against the Nats in what was likely the game of the year to date, as it featured Bryce Harper's MLB debut and a great pitching duel between Stephen Strasburg and Chad Billingsley, both of whom are now shut down for the year for reasons of varying degrees of legitimacy.

After the series with Washington, Kemp had 11 home runs in 21 games. He hit one more home run the next day in Colorado to give him a franchise record 12 April home runs. Since then Kemp has played 68 games, missed 56 games, and hit .265/.328/.408 with six home runs in 287 plate appearances.

I'm pretty sure a simple change of venue won't heal a frayed labrum, but what better place for Kemp to rebound than in the city that cost him one more chance at joining the 40-40 club last year?

A productive Kemp will go a long way in the Dodgers improving their 14-3 record in games in the Eastern time zone this season.

Tuesday's Pitching Matchup

4:05 p.m.: Milwaukee at Pittsburgh
Gallardo (15-8) vs. Burnett (15-7)

4:10 p.m.: Philadelphia at New York
Cloyd (1-1) vs. Harvey (3-5)

5:15 p.m.: Houston at St Louis
Abad (0-4) vs. Lohse (14-2)

Aaron Harang gets the call in the series opener for the Dodgers. He has allowed three runs in each of his last four starts, recording between 15 and 17 outs in each game. During that span Harang has 10 walks and just 11 strikeouts, including nine walks and seven strikeouts in his last three outings.

Before 2011 Harang had never issued more than 50 unintentional walks in a season, and that included five years with enough innings to qualify for the ERA title and three campaigns of at least 211 2/3 innings. Last season Harang walked 54 unintentionally for the Padres. This season, having faced the same number of batters as last year (719), Harang has walked 68 unintentionally, plus a career-high nine more intentional free passes.

Jordan Zimmermann, who has walked roughly half of the batters as Harang (35 unintentional walks, 726 batters faced), gets the call for Washington, looking for his 11th win of the year. Zimmermann has actually pitched better on the road this year, with a 2.25 ERA away from home. In Washington D.C., Zimmermann is 3-3 with a 3.86 ERA in 14 starts.

Kershaw Nominated For Clemente Award

There is also Clayton Kershaw news on Tuesday, and not just for his hip. The left-hander is the Dodgers' nominee for the 2012 Roberto Clemente Award, which recognizes a Major League Baseball player who best represents the game of baseball through positive contributions on and off the field, including sportsmanship and community involvement.

Each team nominates one player for the award, which will be announced on Oct. 14. The award has been given out since 1971, and the lone Dodger to capture the honor was Steve Garvey in 1981.

Game Time: 4:05 p.m.

TV: KCAL, MLB Network

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