Thu, 20 Jun 2019

Rockies, Dodgers battle in big series for NL West lead

Sports Xchange
17 Sep 2018, 15:38 GMT+10

LOS ANGELES -- There will be no need for scoreboard watching when the National League West leaders meet Monday at Dodger Stadium, at least not the out-of-town scoreboard anyway.

The first-place Colorado Rockies and the second-place Los Angeles Dodgers will begin their final three-game series of the season against each other. The Dodgers are the five-time defending division champions, which makes the Rockies the upstarts in the chase.

To combat the Dodgers' experience in situations like a key late-game series, Rockies manager Bud Black will lean more on his veterans over the next few weeks.

"The guys who have been in Septembers before, you'll see that," Black said, according to the Denver Post. "Probably, for the most part, when teams have that experience, teams use it."

The Rockies will head into the duel coming off a 3-2 victory at San Francisco, but over its last 10 games, Colorado has lost as many it has won. The Rockies had been shut out for 20 consecutive innings before scoring three times in the second inning Sunday.

The Dodgers, meanwhile, will enter their final homestand of the season coming off a 6-4 road trip that inexplicably included two losses at Cincinnati against the last-place Reds and ended with a 5-0 loss at St. Louis on Sunday. The Dodgers won two-of-three games at Colorado to start that trip.

The Dodgers are in a fight for the division now, in part because of their 1-6 record against the lowly Reds this year. But they have four consecutive division opponents on the schedule to close out the season, giving them a chance to decide things on their own terms.

"We knew all along we controlled our own destiny," manager Dave Roberts said, according to the Los Angeles Times, when the Dodgers took over first place with a 17-4 victory Saturday at St. Louis.

Jon Gray (11-7, 4.80 ERA) will pitch in the series opener for the Rockies, and while he has helped the Rockies to a 9-2 record in his 11 starts since returning from a Triple-A demotion, he has a 5.59 ERA in two starts against the Dodgers this year.

The Dodgers will counter with left-hander Hyun Jin-Ryu (4-3 2.42), who has a 2.67 ERA in six starts since returning from the disabled list because of a groin strain. But the Dodgers are just 3-3 in those games and Ryu was the losing pitcher in one of those defeats at Cincinnati.

And in those six Ryu starts, he has not gone over 89 pitches in any of them, creating reliance on a bullpen that has struggled at times and has dominating at other times over the last six weeks.

After Ryu pitches, the Dodgers will close out the series with their two best pitchers: veteran Clayton Kershaw and rookie Walker Buehler. If the Dodgers can win the opener their confidence will only soar from there. Kershaw and Buehler both pitched the Dodgers to a victory at St. Louis.

In 10 career starts against the Dodgers, Gray is 3-3 with a 3.83 ERA over 51 2/3 innings. In nine career starts against the Rockies, Ryu is just 3-6 with a 5.77 ERA over 43 2/3 innings.

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