Inch by inch, the Los Angeles Dodgers are crawling up from the bottom of the NL West. They've already guaranteed themselves a split in the 4-game set with the Philadelphia Phillies, and can now cap off the week with a win Sunday to take their third consecutive series to continue the climb.
The series finale pits a pair of righthanders as Kyle Kendrick takes on Stephen Fife in the 4:10 PM (ET) start at Dodgers Stadium. Fife and the Dodgers are toting small chalk into the contest at -115 on the moneyline. MLB odds for Game 4 vary from shop to shop with both 7.5 and 8 offered for a total.
Let's step back to something we mentioned in Thursday's series opener about rookie starter Jonathan Pettibone. Philadelphia entered that game 8-4 in Pettibone's 12 starts, and Charlie Manuel's men are 10-6 in Kendrick's assignments. Even with the Phils dropping Game 1, they're still 18-11 behind those two starters, and probably think they should be more in the AL East race at this point.
Kendrick is coming off a winning performance Wednesday in San Diego, and he's an NL West road-killing machine now with the Phillies 4-0 in his road starts against the division. A win in LA on Friday will give Kendrick a clean sweep of the division.
Fife was on the mound Tuesday when the Dodgers held on for a 6-5 win vs. the Giants. The righty out of Utah U. had his fifth straight good showing since rejoining the team and rotation in early-June, and has been very good when chucking off the bump at Chavez Ravine in his brief career with a 2.82 ERA in a half-dozen assignments.
The stars align even more for Fife who made his MLB debut last July against the Phillies, tossing 1-run, 4-hit ball through six innings only to no-decision in the Phils' 3-2 win at Dodger Stadium.
The first three games of this series went OVER the total, including Game 2 when Dale Scott dragged a 4-12 O/U mark into the contest. Bill Miller is up for the finale and, like Scott, also has a heavy UNDER lean on the season at 5-10 O/U, including his last three failing to reach the scoreboard hurdle.
It's going to be warm (low-90s), not as humid as the past few days in LA and a nice breeze from the south (blowing out to center) for this one, and I'm going to bank on the offenses also staying just hot enough. My play will be on the OVER to sweep this series.
By: Willie Bee
Howard Eskin's question was answered Friday night when the Philadelphia Phillies opened a can of whoop-ass on the Los Angeles Dodgers. If you're not sure what the question was, check your favorite search engine.
Philadelphia banged out 21 hits, six of 'em for extra bases, en route to a 16-1 whipping of the Dodgers that leveled the 4-game set and snapped LA's 6-game win streak. The double-lefty matchup easily went to John Lannan over Chris Capuano, and a second straight all-southpaw mound duel awaits fans and baseball bettors Saturday in the final contest on the MLB odds slate.
Hyun-Jin Ryu and the Dodgers went out as $1.15 favorites against Cliff Lee and the Phils, but that line has swung around to make Philadelphia an ever-so-slight favorite at some shops Saturday morning. The sports books all agree on a 6.5 run total, but some are charging more for the UNDER while others juice the OVER a bit extra.
A little more help from his offense and bullpen could have Lee sitting 14-2 at this stage of the season, but his last start is a perfect example of why the Phillies are instead 10-6 in his assignments. Lee pitched into the ninth at San Diego on Monday and left the game with the lead, only for the Padres walk away with a 4-3 triumph in the 10th.
Saturday will be his sixth start vs. the Dodgers, and he has dominated them everywhere but the win column. Lee has a 0.95 ERA in the previous five outings -- 0.77 in LA -- but his teams have still managed to lose two of the contests.
Ryu has turned in four quality efforts in June, but doesn't have a win on his personal ledger to show for the effort. The Dodgers have managed to split those four matchups, including a win this past Monday over Madison Bumgarner and the Giants. Saturday will be Ryu's first-ever look at the Phillies, and he has a 1.81 ERA in eight home starts (Dodgers 6-2).
Apologies in advance in case you've heard me say this before, but one of the most inconsistent umps in the biz will be behind the plate Saturday night. CB Bucknor brings a level 8-8 totals record into the match; he had the dish on June 8 at Dodgers Stadium, and the result was the sixth UNDER in his last seven plate assignments at this park.
The trends for both pitchers, especially their prowess at Dodger Stadium, almost demand something like a 2-1, 3-2 ballgame. I'm going to play it the other way, however, and root for the lineups tonight against these two southpaws.
By: Willie Bee
The hits just keep on coming for Yasiel Puig, and the dubyas are starting to pile up for the Los Angeles Dodgers who won their sixth straight in Thursday's series opener vs. the Philadelphia Phillies.
Los Angeles takes aim at lucky No. 7 Friday evening in a battle of southpaws, who each are making their third starts following stints on the disabled list. John Lannan gets the call for the Phillies in search of his first victory of 2013, and LA sends Chris Capuano to the bump for the 10:10 PM (ET) first pitch. MLB odds on game day have the Dodgers priced around -150 after opening a bit lower, and the total has been bumped up a half-run from Game 1 to 8 (U -115).
The Dodgers jumped out to a 3-0 lead on Thursday before many of the 51,000+ had made it to their seats, but they couldn't hold the advantage as the Phils chipped away at Zack Greinke to eventually go ahead 4-3. Puig's 2-run single in the seventh provided the game winner and Kenley Jansen closed out the 6-4 triumph.
Lannan missed about two months with a knee injury before returning 11 days ago against Washington. The Long Beach, NY native didn't figure into the decision that went to the Phillies in walk-off style, the third no-decision for Lannan this season that ended with Philadelphia notching a win.
He had some success vs. the Dodgers while pitching for the Nationals, including winning each of his last two assignments in LA (2.19 ERA). Hanley Ramirez, who saw Lannan often during his Marlins days, is 10-for-23 (.435) lifetime against the lefty with a homer.
Capuano has been solid since he came off the DL, tossing 11 scoreless innings with nine strikeouts in wins at the Yankees and Padres. The former Duke standout has struggled on the home mound, however, with just one quality effort in four starts in LA and an unsightly 8.31 ERA to go with three losses.
Dale Scott is next in the umpire rotation to call balls and strikes. Now in his 28th full season as a field arbiter, Scott has been an UNDER bettor's best friend this year with 12 of his 16 plate assignments failing to reach the total. That includes the last seven straight, one of which was at Dodger Stadium three weeks ago when the Bums nipped the Braves 2-1 in 10 innings.
It's easy to like the streaking Dodgers, but I'm worried who manager Don Mattingly will have at the end of a close game since Jansen has pitched the last two nights. Mattingly called on Jansen three days in a row one time this season, but the big righty threw just 34 pitches in those contests while he's burned through 42 offerings the past two evenings. Let's hope the LA offense provides enough of a cushion for Jansen to not be needed, and make a play on the Dodgers.
My pick: Dodgers -150
By: Willie Bee
They've been playing each other since Benjamin Harrison was president, have logged close to 2,100 regular season meetings and squared off five times in the NLCS. So it's safe to say there have been some important battles along the way.
But in terms of the this season, no games are more important for either team than the next four days in Los Angeles where the Dodgers and Philadelphia Phillies collide. There may not be as much on the line as 2009 when they last met to decide the National League pennant, but how well or poorly the Phils and Dodgers play in this set could very well determine if October baseball is in their plans this year.
Game 1 of the long set matches a pair of pitchers who have no history in this rivalry. Philadelphia rookie, and California native, Jonathan Pettibone will be facing the Giants for the first time in his career. Zack Greinke will be up against the Phillies for the first time as a Dodger, and only his third career start vs. Philly.
As the pitching matchup would suggest by name alone, Los Angeles is a big favorite. The MLB odds started with the Dodgers in the -190 to -200 range on the moneyline, and that number has fallen by 10-15 cents following overnight trading. Both 7 and 7.5 run totals were available early, but the books have settled on the higher number with the UNDER carrying extra juice.
Pettibone Making Most Of Chance In The Majors
A 3rd-round pick in 2008 out of high school in nearby Anaheim, Pettibone has held his own since originally being called up in April to take John Lannan's rotation spot. Philadelphia can't argue with the end results; the Phils are four games over .500 in his 12 starts, and seven games under when anyone else pitches.
Pettibone has mixed in two poor efforts with a couple of fine ones this month, the last time out being one of the good showings. That was at home where he's performed very well (2.55 ERA, 7 starts) as opposed to on the road where his bloated 6.84 ERA is behind Philadelphia standing 2-3 with Pettibone on the hill.
Greinke was excellent last Saturday in San Diego, chopping close to half a run off his ERA with eight innings of 4-hit, 1-run baseball. He has also been outstanding in his five LA assignments (2.12 ERA, Dodgers 5-0). Greinke's final start for the Brewers last season was in the City of Brotherly Love, and he was beating Cliff Lee and the Phils 6-1 before Milwaukee's bullpen blew it in a 7-6 defeat.
Get the MLB odds Report & Betting Lines for Thursday, right here.[gameodds]3/237531/?r1=43-349-192/us&r6=43-349-192/us&r-1=43-349-192/us[/gameodds]
Phils Have Enjoyed LA Last Few Seasons
Dodger Stadium has been an enjoyable stop for Philadelphia in recent years. The Phillies have won each of the last three series in Los Angeles, and saw a 7-game win streak on this diamond end in last July's set that finished off the clubs' confrontations for 2012.
While the Phillies were reeling off seven wins in their last eight at Chavez Ravine, totals bettors were splitting their wagers 4-4 O/U. That same 4-4 O/U mark has also been the case for the last eight overall between the crews.
Weather won't interrupt the game or cause any postponements tonight or the rest of the weekend. But little by little, it is starting to warm up in Los Angeles, and that usually brings some extra scoring at Dodger Stadium. As much as I like the Dodgers' surge in the standings right now, I'm going to make my sports picks on the OVER to get this series started.