08/30 Padres Preview: Game 134 @ Los Angeles

Harry How

The Padres and Dodgers will meet for the first time since June, and they'll be playing under very different circumstances in the division this time around.

The last time the Padres faced the Dodgers was in a four-game series toward the end of June. During that series, San Diego straddled the .500 mark, getting no lower than one game under .500 and as high as two games over. They also reached as high as second place in the division. Meanwhile, L.A. had become what seemed like a permanent resident in the NL West cellar, ranging from 10-12 games below .500 throughout the series and so far out of first place that many believed it would be impossible finish anywhere higher than fourth or fifth place in the division.

Now, more than two months later, both teams have taken a 180. Despite a 6-5 record over their last 11 games, thanks to an unpredictable and unbelievable stretch of 42-8 baseball from June 22nd to August 17th the Dodgers climbed back into first place and 9.5 games ahead of the second-place Diamondbacks. The Padres, on the other hand, have fallen back down to fourth place, 18 games back and only one game ahead of the last-place Giants.

Though it would be a seemingly impossible for anyone to catch the Dodgers at this point in the season, the Padres will at the very least try their best to help close the gap between them and the rest of the division. Tonight they'll send Eric Stults to the hill to try to improve on his 3-8 road record this season. Of his four career starts against L.A., three of them have come this year. He is 1-2 with a 4.50 ERA in those three outings. Stults had a great first half this season, but in his seven starts since the All Star Break he is 0-4 with a 4.68 ERA.

The Dodgers will also send a southpaw to the mound tonight. Hyun-Jin Ryu will make his first career appearance against San Diego. He's coming off back-to-back losses and most recently gave up four runs in five innings of work against the Red Sox. However, the rookie has been an impressive addition to the Dodgers rotation this season, going 12-5 with a 3.08 ERA in his 25 starts. He's been especially good in his 12 starts at home, going 6-2 with a 2.12 ERA.

Game time at Dodger Stadium tonight is set for 7:10.

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