The teams with the two best run differentials in baseball face off in St. Louis this weekend, with the Dodgers (+53 runs) open a road trip against the Cardinals (+59 runs) with a three-game series at Busch Stadium.
The Dodgers are 11-21* at new Busch Stadium, which opened in 2006. But under manager Don Mattingly the club is 8-6 against the Cardinals on the road, with a three-game sweep in 2011 and taking three our of four in 2013. Hey, 2015 is an odd year, right? Right?
*counting the playoffs, the Dodgers are 12-26 at new Busch Stadium, including 0-5 in the last two postseasons.
The two teams also have the two of the three best home records in baseball, with the Cardinals (18-5, .783) slightly ahead of the Dodgers (21-7, .750) in that department, too (the Mets are 20-6, .769, at Citi Field this season). This is the first of consecutive weekend meetings between the Dodgers and Cardinals, with four games at Dodger Stadium starting next Thursday.
The Cardinals have won four straight games, just coming off a sweep of the Diamondbacks at home.
Mike Bolsinger gets the call in the opener for the Dodgers, looking to continue his magical May. He allowed a run in his first inning in his second stint with the Dodgers on May 12, but then nothing the rest of the game. He has pitched scoreless ball in each of his last two starts, including retiring his final 23 batters faced in eight shutout innings against the Padres on Saturday.
Bolsinger has 17 strikeouts and four walks in 19⅔ innings this month.
Since 1914, the only two Dodgers pitchers to allow one or fewer run in a month with at least four starts were Fernando Valenzuela in 1981, 5-0 with one run allowed in five starts, including four shutouts, and 45 innings during Fernandomania in April; and Orel Hershiser, 5-0 with no runs allowed in six starts, the final 55 innings of his 59-inning scoreless streak.
But perhaps more realistically, the Dodgers just need Bolsinger to keep them in the game. In his four major league starts this season, he has faced 23, 22, 23 and 24 batters, so look for something in that range again as the goal.
John Lackey has his lowest strikeout rate (16.0%) since 2011 but has still performed well this season, with a 3.18 ERA and 3.43 FIP through nine starts. He has struck out six or more in three of those starts, combining for 24 strikeouts and just two runs allowed in 21⅔ innings.
In his other six starts he is 0-3 with a 4.63 ERA, with as many walks (14) as strikeouts (14) in his 35 innings.
Time: 5:15 p.m. PT
TV: SportsNet LA, MLB Network