The Los Angeles Dodgers seem to be limping to the finish line and are coming off a forgettable series against one of the National League’s worst teams, but they did just enough at the end of their 10-game road trip to guarantee themselves a share of a division title. The Dodgers attempt to claim their fifth consecutive outright National League West crown Friday when they begin a six-game homestand with the first of three against the San Francisco Giants.
After appearing to break out of the funk that saw it drop 16 of 17 from Aug. 26-Sept. 11 when it won four straight late last week, Los Angeles fell back into a rut by losing its next four, including three straight in Philadelphia, which has spent most of the season sporting the worst record in the NL. The Dodgers lowered their magic number for clinching the West to one in Thursday’s 5-4 victory over the Phillies, however, riding homers from Curtis Granderson and Andre Ethier to avoid a four-game sweep. The news wasn’t all good though, as third baseman Justin Turner (bruised right thumb) joined shortstop Corey Seager (ankle) among key players hurt during the series. Despite their major-league worst 60-93 record, the Giants have played the Dodgers tough in 2017 (7-9) and enter this series feeling good about themselves after winning three straight, including a two-game home sweep of Colorado earlier in the week.
TV: 10:10 p.m. ET, MLB Network, NBCSN Bay Area (San Francisco), SportsNet LA (Los Angeles)
PITCHING MATCHUP: Giants RH Jeff Samardzija (9-14, 4.42 ERA) vs. Dodgers LH Rich Hill (10-8, 3.60)
Samardzija logged his eighth quality start over his last 10 outings in a losing cause last Friday against Arizona, allowing three runs on six hits while striking out seven across eight innings. Excluding a Sept. 9 hiccup in which he allowed six runs to the Chicago White Sox, the former Notre Dame football standout has posted a 1.50 ERA in his other four turns since Aug. 22. Samardzija settled for a no-decision at Dodger Stadium on May 3 despite permitting one unearned run and fanning 11 in eight innings.
Hill ended a four-start losing streak with a dominant five-inning effort en route to a win at Washington on Saturday, as Anthony Rendon’s solo shot was the only hit or run he gave up while striking out seven. The 37-year-old Bostonian is limiting opponents to a .130 average through three turns this month, and he has posted a 2.81 ERA despite going 1-2 in September. Buster Posey is 5-for-12 versus Hill, who has thrived in his two starts against San Francisco this season while going 1-0 with a 1.69 ERA.
1. Los Angeles will claim the West outright with a win or an Arizona loss Friday. With their next victory, the Dodgers will post their highest win total in a single season since 1977 (98).
2. San Francisco OF Hunter Pence is 11-for-24 with a homer and six RBIs over his last six contests.
3. Tommy Lasorda, who was in his first year as the full-time manager for Dodgers in 1977 and served in the same capacity for parts of 22 seasons, will be honored before the game as he celebrates his 90th birthday.
PREDICTION: Dodgers 3, Giants 2