The Dodgers may have dropped Wednesday night's game to the Braves, but they are working on potentially one of their best season series ever against the Braves. The clubs, who met in the National League Division Series in 2013, conclude their regular season schedule with Thursday morning's series finale in Turner Field in Atlanta.
At 9:10 a.m. PT, this is the earliest game of the season for the Dodgers, one of only four weekday day games remaining on the schedule (Sept. 3 at home against the Nationals, then on the road Sept. 17 against the Rockies and Sept. 19 against the Cubs are the others).
The Dodgers have won five of their six meetings against the Braves this season, and with a win on Thursday morning would tie the club's second-best winning percentage against the Braves in a single season dating back to 1914.
The best mark came in 1973, when the up-and-coming Little Blue Bicycle Dodgers, a year away from a World Series appearance, beat a Braves team was the first team with three players (Hank Aaron, Darrell Evans and Davey Johnson) with 40 home runs.
The 1952 Brooklyn Dodgers won the pennant and beat the Braves in 18 of their 21 meetings, the last year before the Braves moved from Boston to Milwaukee. The 1941 Dodgers, another World Series team, was 18-4 against the Braves and massively outscored them, 137-56.*
*Think about that for a moment. On average in 1941, the Dodgers outscored the Braves by 3.6 runs per game.
In 1988, the World Series-winning Dodgers were 14-4 against a 106-loss Atlanta team that had a couple of rookie pitchers named Tom Glavine and John Smoltz who combined to go 9-24 in 46 starts.
Playing a team only seven times doesn't quite pack the same punch as playing a division rival 18 times every year or, before divisions and expansion, 22 times per year. But a team can only play the schedule they have, and winning six out of seven games is nothing to sneeze at.
But to get that sixth win, the Dodgers must first outlast Atlanta on Thursday, with Roberto Hernandez making his second start with his new club.
Hernandez struck out five in six innings in his debut last Friday in Milwaukee, his most strikeouts in seven starts. He is 1-1 with a 4.26 ERA in three starts against the Braves this season, though he has walked more than he struck out in all three starts. He has 14 walks and seven strikeouts in 19 innings against the Braves this season, including a season-worst six free passes on April 14.
The Dodgers touched up Aaron Harang for four runs in six innings in a win at Dodger Stadium on July 29, the only start of Harang's last six outings in which he allowed more than two runs.
Harang allowed 26 home runs in 143⅓ innings and 626 batters faced in 2013, but this season he has turned that around, allowing just 10 home runs in 149⅓ innings and 638 batters faced.
He has been especially stingy at home in 2014, 4-3 with a 3.14 ERA with two home runs in 80⅓ innings at Turner Field.
Time: 9:10 a.m. PT
TV: SportsNet LA, MLB Network