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Dodgers in salvage mode, again

MLB: Los Angeles Dodgers at San Francisco Giants D. Ross Cameron-USA TODAY Sports

The Dodgers are in the thick of it right now, seemingly unable to get out of their own way, not clicking on all or even most cylinders. The result is an under-.500 record and yet another series finale in salvage mode, on Sunday afternoon against the Giants at AT&T Park in San Francisco.

Needing a win to salvage a series split on Sunday, the Dodgers have now won only two of their nine series. They take a 12-14 record into the finale, which isn’t necessarily unique. Each of the Dodgers teams that have won the last five NL West division titles has had worse 26-game stretches, including the 6-20 fade down the stretch last year for a team that went to the World Series.

The 2016 Dodgers were 21-23 on May 21, and the 2013 Dodgers were 30-42 on June 21.

This is not to suggest that a turnaround is imminent in 2018, or to provide some comfort. It’s just that these things happen, and just about every team looks like hot garbage at some point or another during the season.

It’s also hard to see the forest for the trees when there are so many immediate problems. The bullpen is a mess, now with a 4.70 ERA that ranks 21st in baseball and a FIP (4.14) that ranks 20th. Dodgers relievers have allowed 15 home runs, fifth-most in MLB, and only five of those were off Wilmer Font, who was dispatched to Oakland.

The offense is inconsistent at best, evident on Saturday with a 15-run outburst in Game 1 of the doubleheader followed by a quiet three-spot in the nightcap. The Dodgers have scored three or fewer runs 10 times in 26 games this season, and are 2-8 in those games. They are 10-6 when scoring four or more runs.

Tony Cingrani has a dead arm, Yasiel Puig has a left ankle contusion, and Kiké Hernandez missed both games Saturday with illness and his availability for Sunday is in question.

Right now the Dodgers are just trying to get through Sunday, which means dealing again with perpetual nemesis Ty Blach.

The Giants left-hander has six walks and four strikeouts in two starts against the Dodgers this season yet has given up only one run in 11 innings. His career ERA against the Dodgers is 1.90 in 47⅓ innings, and it is 5.14 in 164⅔ innings against everyone else.

Kenta Maeda has 31 strikeouts and six walks so far this season, and needs seven strikeouts on Sunday to match the greatest strikeout months of his career. He has at least seven strikeouts in three of his four starts this season.

The last time the Dodgers were in San Francisco, three weekends ago, Maeda pitched in relief and threw a scoreless inning. He had two strikeouts.

The best the Dodgers can achieve on Sunday is a series split with the Giants, which would classify as an accomplishment in recent years at AT&T Park. Since the start of the 2015 season the Dodgers have won just one of 11 series in San Francisco, and are 11-24 in games there.

Game info

Time: 2:05 p.m. PT

TV: SportsNet LA