While neither the Dodgers nor the Giants are playing particularly well at the moment, one team is playing particularly less well than the other. And as much as it pains me to admit — we don't hide our loyalties here, so if you're looking for unadulterated objectivity, you may want to look elsewhere — the 13-14 Dodgers are the team that's playing the particularly less well brand of baseball.
Los Angeles' failings in the clutch hitting department have been well-documented, as have the health concerns of the starting rotation — not to mention the unwatchable outings of a couple of the guys, who haven't been pitching particularly well – so we'll spare you. But the injury excuse doesn't fly in these parts particularly, because you simply have to transcend those problems. If you want pennants and World Series championships, anyway. And the Dodgers do want pennant and World Series championships (see Magic Johnson.)
The 16-12 Giants haven't quite been the up-and-down mess of disappointment the Dodgers have over the first month, but they have their share of issues just the same. Former San Francisco ace Tim Lincecum has done better to begin 2013 (2-2, with a 5.74 ERA last April; 2-1, 4.41 this April plus one start in May), but he's still not close to the pitcher he once was. The Freak's pitched well three times and poorly the other three.
Current ace Matt Cain is off to an inexplicably bad start this year. He's winless and sports an ugly 6.49 ERA, with the Giants losing five of his six starts. Ryan Vogelsong, a semi-Cinderella story to begin with, is struggling too, having had the wheels knocked off the carriage in four of his five outings. He's 1-2, with a 6.23.
But Friday's starter, Barry Zito (3-1, 3.29) is off to a fine start in what may be his final season in the City and Madison Bumgarner (3-1, 1.55, 0.84 WHIP) has been nothing short of spectacular.
Of most particular importance, San Francisco has shown great skill in the late innings, leading baseball with nine come-from-behind wins. In sweeping the Diamondbacks Monday through Wednesday, the Giants rallied to win in the eighth or later all three nights. No thank you very much, J.J. Putz and David Hernandez, Dbacks arsonists both.
Clayton Kershaw rejoins the team after the death of his father and goes tonight against Zito at 7:15 p.m. He's 5-2 lifetime at AT&T Park, with a nearly-invisible ERA of 0.66, and 9-4/1.28 overall against the Giants.
There's talk of Mark Ellis finally going on the disabled list today, but I'm guessing the Dodgers hold off on him and put Ted Lilly on the DL instead. Or perhaps they both go. Either way, while Lilly is scheduled for Saturday, look for Matt Magill to make his second start opposite Vogelsong at 6:05 p.m. instead. It's Hyun-Jin Ryu vs. Cain on ESPN's Sunday Night Baseball at 5 p.m.
With Kershaw returning from the bereavement list someone is leaving for sure, and if it's neither Ellis nor Lilly, it's either Justin Sellers or Luis Cruz. There always a chance of a phantom injury, with Cruz being the perfect candidate. The prototype, actually.
It's a Dodgers and Giants weekend, people, and nothing in sports can be more important than that. Fine, the Kentucky Derby, but if the good people of Louisville want to brag about something — anything — that can be completed in two minutes, and actually describe it officially at “The Greatest,” be my guest.
Yeah, yeah, yeah; the NBA has some nice first-round playoff matchups and the NHL does too, but c'mon. Los Angeles @ San Francisco for three. Be there, aloha.
Dodger fans are encouraged to participate in our almost-nightly game chat — or “game thread,” as we call it — by reporting to this same url at any time during the weekend. Subsequent game threads can be found at the most recent post with a category marked “Dodgers.”
Giants' fans are welcome too, and in fact, we have one particularly and rather-discerning SF fan who fancies himself a regular. Tom in San Mateo. We think he's the only one. Prove us wrong, San Francisco.