As the Dodgers begin their final road trip of the season, here are some notes for the series opener in Phoenix with the Diamondbacks.
Clayton Kershaw gets the call for the Dodgers, on the cusp of 200 innings for the first time in his career. In his last five road starts, he has a 1.77 ERA while averaging over seven innings per start, with five unintentional walks against 26 strikeouts, yet is just 1-2 thanks to a lack of run support and one epically blown lead in Philadelphia. Kershaw has allowed two runs in 11 innings against the Diamondbacks this season, winning both starts.
The only left-handed L.A. Dodgers to have 200 strikeouts in a season are Sandy Koufax, Fernando Valenzuela, and Kershaw.
Hopefully Kershaw can keep Arizona fans hungry, avoiding this Diamondbacks' promotion, reached Thursday night against the Rockies:
#Dbacks scored 6 runs last night head to Taco Bell today b/w 4-6pm, get 3 free crunchy tacos w/ purchase large drink
James Loney has hit seven career home runs at Chase Field in just 31 games, in addition to hitting .439/.481/.675 there. By contrast, Loney has 18 career home runs at Dodger Stadium, in 315 games.
Per the Dodger game notes, catcher A.J. Ellis "was born on April 9, 1981, the day that Fernando Valenzuela substituted for Jerry Reuss on Opening Day and shut out the Astros, 2-0, starting Fernandomania."
Earlier this week, the Diamondbacks set a major league record for team strikeouts. Unfortunately, it was for batting, not pitching. Arizona has 1,426 strikeouts this season, which surpassed the old mark of 1,399, set by the 2001 Brewers. With nine games remaining, Arizona is on pace for 1,510 strikeouts.
Mark Reynolds leads the way with 206 punchouts, which is second all-time...to Reynolds, who whiffed 223 times last season. There have been three individual seasons with 200 strikeouts in major league history, and they are all by Reynolds, in the last three seasons.
Arizona second baseman Kelly Johnson is hot this month, hitting .292/.329/.597 with six home runs in September. Johnson has been quite the bargain pickup for the Diamondbacks this year, signing a $2.35 million, one-year deal after getting non-tendered by the Braves, and he has hit .276/.361/.494 with 25 home runs. He is eligible for arbitration in 2011, and should get quite a raise.
Barry Enright is tonight's starter for Arizona. The rookie started off his career on the right foot, going 6-2 with a 2.45 ERA in his first 12 starts. However, Enright has been pummeled in his last three outings, allowing 17 runs in 12 2/3 innings, including a whopping nine home runs. Over his last 11 starts, Enright has just 22 strikeouts, and 19 walks.
For an in-depth series preview, be sure to check out True Blue LA.