Kershaw, Dodgers Open Big Series With Giants

By: Willie Bee | Monday, August 20, 2012

A prop bet I might like to get down on to begin this week is whether or not the lead will change hands in the NL West each of the next four days as the San Francisco Giants and Los Angeles Dodgers begin a series at Chavez Ravine.

We could be reaching this series with the two clubs at the bottom of the division standings and it would still be a marquee clash.  Instead, the Dodgers have a half-game lead over the Giants at the top of the ranks, plus the series holds critical meaning to the entire National League race.

The series also begins with the old rivals having leapfrogged each other two of the last three days, including Sunday when LA assumed command of the division with a shutout win in Atlanta while San Fran was dropping a matchup down the coast in San Diego.  There is also the hype over the starting pitching matchup in Game 1 that features a pair of very good left-handed hurlers, Madison Bumgarner and Clayton Kershaw.

ESPN2 will start its broadcast at 10:00 p.m. (ET) and the Dodgers are solid $1.55 favorites behind Kershaw.  Monday evening's total is a low six runs and still favors the 'under' (-115).

The Dodgers return to LA following a successful 7-3 road trip that saw them win series in Miami, Pittsburgh and Atlanta.  Aside from a couple of poor performances by Joe Blanton, the mound corps did a great job on the journey, and the Dodgers will now look to recapture some of the home magic they flashed in the early going.  Los Angeles got the campaign going by winning 16 of its first 19 at Chavez Ravine, but is 6-9 on the diamond since the all-star break.

Kershaw won two of the games on the just-completed trip and enters Monday looking for his fifth consecutive win.  The streak started in San Francisco near the end of July when he tossed a 5-hit shutout in a four-zip victory as -115 chalk.  Los Angeles lost his first two tries against the Giants this season, and all three of his assignments against them came with Ryan Vogelsong chucking for San Fran.  Kershaw has made 14 career starts vs. San Fran, plus a relief appearance, and owns a 7-3 record with a tiny 1.32 ERA in more than 100 innings.

The Giants have been alternating wins and losses in Bumgarner's starts since the end of June, and hope to stop that trend with their young southpaw coming off a complete game 5-hitter of his own the last time out.  He will be seeing the LA lineup for the first time in 2012 after missing the Dodgers in the previous three series; the Giants were 3-2 in his five assignments against them a year ago.

Both clubs begin the series in relatively good health, though the Giants suffered a big blow this past week when All-Star Game MVP Melky Cabrera got caught with a little extra juice in his system and was suspended for 50 games.  Cabrera is not eligible to return until San Francisco gets five games into the postseason, assuming the club makes it that far.

The Dodgers recently lost veteran utility glove Jerry Hairston to the DL with a hip injury that had been nagging him for a while.  He is expected to return by the end of the month.

This is one of the few parks left with at least 50 years of history in a given fact, there are only three current head-to-head series at specific stadiums with 50+ years of action.  Two of them are in Los Angeles (Giants and Cubs visiting) and the other is the Dodgers playing on Chicago's North Side.

The Dodgers own a slim 5-4 edge in meetings this season, the Giants a 23-22 margin in the last 45 games between the old foes.  Los Angeles streaks into the series with a 3-game run over San Francisco, and four of the last six on this diamond going back to the final three played in LA during the 2011 campaign.

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