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White-hot Dodgers face red-hot Royals

Boston Red Sox v Kansas City Royals Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images

All that stands between the Dodgers and the All-Star break is an interleague weekend series against a team that is nearly as red hot as they are.

The Royals come to town winners of four straight games and 18 of their last 24. Kansas City was eight games under .500 as late as June 9, but now is in second wild card position in the American League, just a half-game behind both the Yankees for top wild card honors and the Indians for the AL Central lead.

Mike Moustakas, who won the American League Final Vote on Thursday — and who was part of a tandem campaign between the Dodgers and Royals along with NL winner Justin Turner — has already set a career high with 25 home runs this season. That includes home runs in six of his last eight games, and 10 home runs in 22 games during the Royals’ 18-6 run.

The Dodgers during the Royals’ run — which dates back to June 9 — are 21-4, and have actually won 23 of their last 27 games.

Kenta Maeda followed up a solid if intermittent June — 21 innings, four runs, four walks, 25 strikeouts — by getting hit around by the Padres last Sunday in his first start of July. He tries to head into the break on a high note, and looks to win his fifth straight decision at home, where he has a 3.27 ERA in 41⅓ innings in 2017.

The Royals and Dodgers have only met three other times in inter league play — 2005 and 2014 in Kansas City, and 2003 in Los Angeles.

But despite their unfamiliarity as opponents, the Royals’ Friday starter Jason Hammel has plenty of history with the Dodgers. The former Rockies and Cubs pitcher, among other teams, has faced the Dodgers 18 times in his career, including 14 starts. He is 2-7 with a 5.00 ERA in those games, and has lost five straight decisions to the Dodgers dating back to 2011.

Hammel faced the Dodgers four times in 2015-16 combined, posting a 3.18 ERA in 17 innings. The two starts last year were essentially bullpen games.

The Dodgers have won 15 of their last 16 games at Dodger Stadium, and their 36-11 home record is their best start at home since the 1953 team began the year 38-11 at Ebbets Field in Brooklyn.

Game info

Time: 7:10 p.m. PT

TV: SportsNet LA