Dodgers aim to clinch NL West in Baltimore
(AP Photo/Kelvin Kuo)
The Los Angeles Dodgers don't visit Baltimore very often. When they visit for the opener of a three-game series on Tuesday night, they'll have a chance to lock up a seventh consecutive National League West title.
After beating San Francisco on Sunday in the finale to that series, the Dodgers' magic number to clinch the National League West dropped to two. Then it fell to one on Monday night when the second-place Arizona Diamondbacks lost 3-1 to the Mets in New York.
One more Los Angeles win or one more Arizona loss will end the division race.
The Dodgers have been struggling on offense and tinkering with their pitching staff, especially with the starters, who haven't found their way in the last several games.
"A lot of our momentum all year long has been starting pitching," Los Angeles manager Dave Roberts said to MLB.com. "When you have good, consistent starting pitching, guys that go deep in games, that's contagious and gives you a chance to win on a nightly basis. Look at the last two weeks, the common factor is our starters haven't been consistent."
They've made moves, such as shifting Kenta Maeda from the starting staff to the bullpen and putting Julio Urias temporarily into the rotation. The Dodgers also skipped Hyun-Jin Ryu's turn this time through, gave Walker Buehler some extra rest, and plan to activate veteran Rich Hill in the coming days.
Hill has been out three months with a forearm injury but could give Los Angeles a boost down the stretch.
Corey Seager and Matt Beaty both homered in the 5-0 win on Sunday, and that's what the Dodgers do best -- hit home runs. They'll have plenty of chances to do that in Camden Yards, where the ball often flies out of the park when the weather's warm.
They will face Baltimore left-hander Ty Blach (1-2, 10.95 ERA), a pitcher they've seen before when he played with San Francisco. Blach is 4-2 with a 2.82 ERA in 13 games, seven of them starts, versus the Dodgers and is coming off a victory over Tampa Bay.
Buehler (12-3, 3.28 ERA) starts for the Dodgers. The right-hander has won two in a row but has never pitched against the Orioles.
Baltimore is stuck in a five-game losing streak and three defeats away from losing 100 games for the second straight season. The Orioles went 47-115 last year, but already have 46 wins this season with about three weeks left.
One of the bright spots heading down the stretch will be the play of infielder Hanser Alberto. After Sunday's loss to Texas, Alberto was tied for third in the American League with a .321 batting average.
He's been a terror against left-handed pitchers and has routinely started rallies for the Orioles as one of the most valuable players on this year's team. Alberto told MLB.com that he likes the hits but wants the wins.
"You want to do a good job, but you also want to get the 'W,'" Alberto said. "To lose, it's not the same feeling, even if you have three, four, five hits in a game."
Alberto leads the major leagues with 84 hits against left-handers this season, the highest total in a season since 2004.
--Field Level Media
Updated September 10, 2019