LOS ANGELES — When the San Francisco Giants arrive in Los Angeles to face a red-hot Dodgers club in the opener of a three-game series Friday Jason Spezza Jersey , it will not be with a full head of steam.
The Giants are returning to California having barely avoided a four-game sweep at the hands of the Miami Marlins, needing 16 innings Thursday afternoon in South Florida to do it. There should be exhaustion and jet lag aplenty, especially from Buster Posey, who caught all 16 innings.
Now the Giants will be facing one of baseball’s hottest teams in a Dodgers club that has gone 9-2 in June and has crushed a baseball-best 30 home runs this month.
Back in April, when the Giants and Dodgers seemingly met on a daily basis, things mostly went San Francisco’s way. The Giants took three of four in a series at AT&T Park in late April and won six of the first 10 matchups between the clubs.
The Dodgers struggled with runners in scoring position back then and barely showed any power. And when they did go deep the odds of nobody being on base were high.
That all has changed now, and the two hitters getting the most credit for L.A.’s power revival both have Bay Area ties.
Palo Alto native Joc Pederson has eight home runs this season, seven of which have come in June.
And former Oakland A’s infielder Max Muncy is in the midst of a coming-out party for the Dodgers with 13 home runs, 30 RBIs and a .631 slugging percentage in 46 games. Before the season, Muncy played in 96 major league games and hit five home runs with 17 RBIs and a .321 slugging percentage.
“I try not to think about it, (but) it’s hard not to,” Muncy said, according to mlb.com. “Games are a lot of fun right now. Everyone’s feeling the momentum up and down the lineup.”
Also in a bit of a revival is Cody Bellinger, who had a home run in four consecutive games last week.
The common thread among Pederson, Muncy and Bellinger is that all three bat left-handed and the answer from the Giants will come with lefties Derek Holland (Friday) and Madison Bumgarner (Saturday) starting in the first two games of the series.
Holland (4-6, 4.54 ERA) has helped the Giants toward six victories in his last nine starts. In two starts against the Dodgers this season he is 0-1 with a 7.56 ERA. In three career outings against the Dodgers he is 0-2 with a 7.43 ERA.
“Definitely we don’t feel good when you know going in these are ballgames you should be winning, and we’re not getting (victories) like we should,” the Giants’ Andrew McCutchen said, according to the San Francisco Chronicle. “It’s not something you take lightly.”
The Dodgers are scheduled to send Ross Stripling (5-1, 1.65) to the mound in the series opener. The right-hander, who threw 7 1/3 no-hit innings in his major league debut at San Francisco in 2016, has won each of his last five starts, posting a 1.15 ERA in that stretch (31 1/3 innings).
MILWAUKEE — Matt Albers won’t be available Wednesday afternoon when the Milwaukee Brewers wrap up their three-game series with the Chicago Cubs at Miller Park.
The Brewers placed the right-handed reliever on the disabled list Tuesday with a strained right shoulder following a disastrous showing Monday night in a loss to the Cubs when he allowed a season-high five runs in the 11th inning of a 7-2 Brewers loss.
“He reported some soreness after the game,” Brewers manager Craig Counsell said. “He said it has been there for a little bit. We’ve got to just shut it down and try to get him better. Hopefully, it’s something that’s on the shorter end of things and we’ll have all the diagnostics done and get an answer to that a little later in the week.”
Albers was a big part of Milwaukee’s bullpen’s early-season success.
While Josh Hader and Jeremy Jeffress attracted most of the attention with their dominance, Albers went 3-1 with a save and a 1.08 ERA through his first 21 appearances.
Things took a turn John Klingberg Jersey , though, when the calendar flipped to June.
Albers posted a 19.64 ERA over his last four appearances.
“He got to the point where it was affecting him out there on the field and it’s just time to take a break,” Counsell said.
Milwaukee recalled right-hander Jorge Lopez from Triple-A Colorado Springs to fill Albers’ spot on the roster and hands the ball to right-hander Jhoulys Chacin on Wednesday in the series finale, looking to extend their half-game lead over the Cubs in the National League Central.
Chacin has been stellar of late, going 5-0 with a 2.92 ERA over his last 11 starts and is 5-1 with a 3.58 ERA in 15 starts this season.
“He’s doing what he’s good at,” Counsell said. “He’s executing what he’s good at. It’s a sinking fastball, it’s a very good breaking ball. It’s a sprinkled-in changeup to left-handed hitters.
“Overall, he’s just pitching well.”
Chacin hasn’t faced Chicago since June 20 of last season but is 2-4 with a 3.82 ERA in seven career outings (six starts) against the Cubs.
He’ll match up against Cubs lefty Mike Montgomery, who’s filled in nicely while Yu Darvish recovers from right triceps tendinitis. Montgomery is 2-0 with a 1.02 ERA in three starts this season after holding the Pirates to a run over six innings his last time out and is 2-1 with a 3.56 ERA overall this season.
“What he’s showing right now is how good he actually is,” Cubs manager Joe Maddon said.
Montgomery has served as the Cubs’ swingman since he was acquired in a trade ahead of the 2016 deadline. He made it known over the winter that he’d prefer to be a full-time starter but has embraced his current role without issue.
Maddon respected Montgomery’s candor and appreciates his willingness to put the team first.
“I want our guys to speak their mind,” Maddon said. “If that’s what you feel, don’t hold it back. Say it straight forwardly, and then let’s talk about it. I love that. He’s been that guy for a couple years, we just haven’t had that opportunity for him. My advice back to him was just stay ready. ‘When that opportunity arises you need to be ready to take advantage of it.’ He has. … This doesn’t surprise me, what he’s doing.”
Darvish meanwhile took a step forward Tuesday. The right-hander threw off a mound for the first time since May 26 during a 30-pitch bullpen session in Milwaukee. He reported no issues during the workout and will be re-evaluated Wednesday morning.
“He threw really well, easy gas, great location, good spin on his breaking ball, (I was) very impressed,” Maddon said. “The ball was coming out hot, and it was going right where he wanted to throw it. Good command in the ‘pen. … That’s just a bullpen, but it was very encouraging to see him throw that easily and that well.”
There is still no time table for Darvish, who is 1-3 with a 4.95 ERA in eight starts this season, to return.