LOS ANGELES, CA - APRIL 13: Clayton Richard #33 of the San Diego Padres pitches against the Los Angeles Dodgers during the first inning at Dodger Stadium on April 13, 2012 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)
With the All Star Break now behind us, tonight we open up the second half the 2012 season and a three-game set in Los Angeles. The NL-West-leading Dodgers will welcome back two players whose trips to the DL during the first half of the season were a blow to the lineup. Matt Kemp missed all but two games since May 14th due to a strained hamstring. Andre Ethier missed the last 11 games due to a strained oblique. The Dodgers went on a downward trend prior to the All Star Break, losing 15 of their last 20 games and hitting just .198 as a team. They now hold just a half-game lead over San Francisco in the division standings and hope to gain some more ground in this series, so they are looking forward to having their 3-4 hitters back in the lineup and hope to get some power out of them.
Clayton Kershaw will try to lead the Dodgers to victory tonight after a 27-pitch All Star Game appearance in which he allowed two hits and a walk, but pitched himself out of a bases-loaded jam. He hasn't been pitching his best lately, going 2-3 in his last eight starts. However, he is 6-5 on the season and he's had a great career against San Diego, going 7-3 all-time.
Our Padres will counter Clayton Richard, who is coming off a loss to the Reds. He was roughed up for six runs in six innings on Saturday, but went 4-1 in his five starts prior to that. Like Kershaw against our padres, Richard has some fantastic career numbers against the Dodgers. He is 6-1 all-time, which is a higher win percentage than any other opponent he has faced. That one loss, however, did come earlier this year. He gave up four earned runs (eight total) in six innings at the Ravine on April 13th. Tonight will be his chance to redeem himself and help our boys start the second half of the season with a win.
After winning a season-high six straight games, our Padres dropped the final three against the Reds going into the All Star Break. But spirits are high coming into the second half of the season. Better baseball is being played on the offensive side of the ball, and our pitching and defense is holding up as well. The team has shown a lot more life lately and now sits at fourth place in the NL West, and in a very last-half-of-2009-esque turn of events, we've come to see our young players step up and impress as the team starts winning more games. Although we are still 13 games back, this is a far cry from the team that seemed to have forgotten how to play baseball earlier this season. Notably, a win tonight would mark our longest win streak on the road since 2006, not to mention it would be so fun to see our boys tag Kershaw with a loss.
GO FRIARS!! KEEP THE FAITH!! BEAT LA!!