MLB: Clayton Kershaw, Dodgers eye season sweep of lowly Reds
The visiting Los Angeles Dodgers aim for a rare seven-game season series sweep Thursday afternoon when they play the Cincinnati Reds.
The Dodgers have dominated the Reds in every way since the start of the 2019 season, winning 14 of 18 meetings between the two clubs and winning all six games this season by a combined score of 42-13.
The Reds have lost six straight, including all five on their six-game homestand that concludes Thursday.
The Dodgers send veteran lefty Clayton Kershaw (4-1, 2.08 ERA) to the mound in the matinee finale to the three-game series.
Kershaw recorded a no decision in his last start, against Cleveland, allowing one run and striking out four over five innings in a 2-1 loss to the Guardians.
In 13 career starts against Cincinnati, Kershaw is 5-2 with a 2.30 ERA and a 0.94 WHIP. Kershaw has fanned exactly 100 batters and walked 23 in his career against the Reds.
The Reds counter with 22-year-old rookie Hunter Greene (3-7, 5.26). The right-hander will make his 14th major league start this season. Thursday marks his second start against his hometown Dodgers.
In his second major league start on April 16, the right-hander took the loss at Dodger Stadium in a 5-2 Cincinnati setback, allowing three runs – two earned – on five hits over 5 1/3 innings.
Trea Turner went 0-for-3 with a walk on Wednesday to see his 13-game hitting streak come to an end. The streak had been the longest such streak in the majors.
After dealing with a rash of injuries to their bullpen over the weekend, the Reds received some good news concerning one of their regular outfielders.
Manager David Bell said outfielder Tyler Naquin is making unexpectedly quick progress from a quad injury.
“He’s way ahead of schedule,” Bell said. “For a grade two quad strain, it’s (usually) 4-to-6 weeks, he has a chance to be way ahead of that.”
After injuring his quad at the end of May, Naquin is now taking batting practice and tracking fly balls in the outfield.
“Swinging and throwing is not an issue,” Naquin said. “It’s more about full-speed running, cutting, stopping and starting. It seems to be going well with what we’re doing so far.”
On May 29 against San Francisco, Naquin slipped out of the batter’s box and then two days later in Boston, Naquin routinely jogged out of the box after making contact but had to limp to first base.
Freddie Freeman continues to be a thorn in the side of the Reds and their pitching staff. His home run to right-center proved to be the game-winner in Wednesday’s 8-4 Los Angeles win. He has seven RBIs in the first two games.
With runners on base this season, Freeman came into Tuesday’s game hitting .371 with 18 extra-base hits and just 12 strikeouts. On Tuesday, the five-time All-Star went 3-for-3 with runners on base, while his lone out came with the bases empty as the second batter of the game.
On Wednesday, with one out and a runner on third, Freeman singled to center field against Reds ace Luis Castillo, giving him four hits in his first four at-bats of the series with runners on.
“I think those premier middle-of-the-order guys, their DNA is to really, really lock in with guys in scoring position,” Dodgers manager Dave Roberts said. “There’s just that extra layer of finding a way of putting the ball in play, and those numbers don’t lie. He’s elite at that and has been his entire career.”
-Field Level Media