|4:10 PM PT5:10 PM MT6:10 PM CT7:10 PM ET19:10 ET23:10 GMT7:10 4:10 PM MST6:10 PM EST6:40 PM VEN3:10 UAE (+1)6:10 PM CT, May 22, 2019
Tropicana Field, St. Petersburg, Florida Attendance: 12,826
Pitching-rich Dodgers, Rays face off in series finale
Los Angeles Dodgers at Tampa Bay Rays
- The Dodgers have won five of their last six games, scoring at least six runs in four of those games while also shutting out their opponent three times. Their +65 run differential is the best in the National League and their best through 48 games of the season since 2009 (+88).
- Hunter Wood goes on the mound for the Rays today, likely another use of the Rays' "opener". They are 8-5 this season when their starter pitches two or fewer innings. No other team has more than seven such games this season.
- This is just the sixth ever series between the Dodgers and Rays, and the first since 2016, with Los Angeles winning eight of the 13 games. It will be the second time the Rays will face the Dodgers with a winning record (also in 2013).
- Clayton Kershaw has a 2.14 ERA in interleague play in his career, and AL opponents have hit .199 against him. Both are the best in MLB history among pitchers with at least 20 interleague starts. He is 9-0 in his last 14 interleague starts going back to August 2015.
- Since returning from the injured list on May 10, Austin Meadows has hit .296 with a 1.091 OPS, starting five of those games in the leadoff spot. When batting in the leadoff spot this season, he has a .333/.417/.702 slash line -- all three are best by a leadoff batter in MLB (minimum 75 plate appearances).
- The Dodgers are 28-12 in interleague play since 2017, tied with the Astros for second best in MLB (Red Sox, 34-11). The Rays have a 3.10 ERA in interleague play since then, second best in baseball behind only the Astros (2.63).
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Two of the best pitching staffs in baseball will not have much time to get acquainted as their two-game interleague series concludes Wednesday night in St. Petersburg, Fla.
The Tampa Bay Rays, who lead baseball with a 3.05 staff ERA, are playing host to a Los Angeles Dodgers team that is trying its best to be an unruly visitor. The Dodgers took a 7-3 victory in the series opener Tuesday as Clayton Kershaw held the Rays scoreless into the seventh inning.
The strong outing from Kershaw gives the Dodgers a 3.36 staff ERA, which ranks second in the National League. The Cincinnati Reds passed the Dodgers for first place in the NL at 3.34 when they shut out the Milwaukee Brewers on Monday.
The Dodgers now turn to another left-hander, Rich Hill, who was an unexpected weak link on the starting staff after he returned from a knee injury that delayed the start to his season.
Hill gave up 11 runs over his first three starts beginning with his April 28 return, but his 4.20 ERA at that point could have been worse if not for four unearned runs. Then came his start Friday at Cincinnati when he struck out 10 and gave up two hits over six scoreless innings, doing it all in a tidy 84 pitches.
It left Hill 1-1 with a 3.00 ERA and a sense that the expected No. 2 starter when the season began is now in sync with his trusty breaking ball and a far simpler plan moving forward.
"We really just went back to the drawing board, stuck with fastballs and breaking balls," Hill said after Friday's game. "Just getting the fastball down and throwing everything downhill so it opens up the top of the zone as well."
Because of his time in the American League, the veteran Hill does have 11 appearances (two starts) against the Rays and has a 2-0 record with a 4.82 ERA.
Hunter Wood started and gave up an unearned run in two innings Tuesday for Tampa Bay. That gives Rays starters an AL-leading 2.48 ERA, the best in baseball. After Kershaw allowed two runs, the Dodgers' ERA is 2.99 from their starters, best in the NL.
After Tuesday's game, the Rays named right-hander Ryne Stanek (0-1, 3.70 ERA) as their opener on Wednesday. Stanek will be making his major-league-leading 13th start, but none have gone more than two innings.
His last outing as an opener came Friday against the New York Yankees when he gave up one run over two innings and struck out three. He has never faced the Dodgers during his three major league seasons.
While the clash between top pitching staffs was quick, there is another short series between the teams later this season. The Rays will visit Dodger Stadium for two games Sept. 17-18.
Tuesday was the start of a stretch where the Rays will play 13 consecutive days, followed by a stretch where they play 21 games in 20 days.
"It's going to be a test, physically and mentally," Rays outfielder Kevin Kiermaier said, according to the Tampa Bay Times. "You have to find ways."
The Rays expect infielder Yandy Diaz to return to the lineup Wednesday. He was a late scratch Tuesday, two days after he was hit on the left hand by a pitch in a Sunday road game against the New York Yankees.
--Field Level Media
Updated May 22, 2019