The Los Angeles Dodgers have been the subject of one of baseball’s best stories this season, however the team is having a hard time navigating its way through a rough chapter that features no end in sight. The Dodgers look to turn the page and secure at least a share of their fifth consecutive National League West title on Thursday afternoon with a win in the series finale versus the host Philadelphia Phillies.
Rookie Cody Bellinger has four hits in the series and drove in a pair of runs in Wednesday’s 7-5 setback for Los Angeles, which already punched its postseason ticket but hardly looks like a World Series contender with losses in four straight and 20 of its 25 games. Yasiel Puig collected his sixth multi-hit performance in his last 10 games on Wednesday, although the Cuban was upstaged by Aaron Altherr. The 26-year-old had a two-run homer and added a tiebreaking two-run single in the eighth inning to increase his series RBI total to nine for Philadelphia, which has won seven of its last nine to rid itself of the distinction of having the worst record in baseball. Altherr has homered in each game of the series to highlight his five-hit, four-run performance versus the Dodgers.
TV: 1:05 p.m. ET, MLB Network, SportsNet Los Angeles, CSN Philadelphia
PITCHING MATCHUP: Dodgers RH Kenta Maeda (12-6, 4.21 ERA) vs. Phillies RH Mark Leiter (3-6, 4.93)
Maeda recorded his second straight no-decision and saw his winless stretch extend to three starts on Sept. 11 after allowing four runs on as many hits in three innings at San Francisco. The 29-year-old native of Japan saw left-hander Hyun-Jin Ryu reclaim his spot in the rotation, thereby pushing Maeda’s start back until Thursday. Maeda put forth a dominating performance in his last encounter versus Philadelphia, permitting two runs and striking out eight in seven innings of a 5-3 victory on April 28.
Leiter collected his third loss in four contests on Friday as he surrendered four runs for the second straight outing in a 4-0 setback versus Oakland. The 26-year-old matched his career high with nine strikeouts, but was once again done in by the home run ball as he has been taken deep on two occasions in each of his last three trips to the mound. “I thought the two homers put us in a tough hole early on,” Leiter told reporters. “That was disappointing. After that, I tried to keep us in it.”
1. Los Angeles SS Corey Seager is 0-for-10 with three strikeouts in the series and is 2-for-16 versus Philadelphia this season.
2. Phillies 3B Maikel Franco is 0-for-8 in the series and is hitless in five of his last six outings on the heels of a six-game hitting streak.
3. Dodgers OF Curtis Granderson is a 6-for-49 with 13 strikeouts in September.
PREDICTION: Dodgers 5, Phillies 3