Left-hander Clayton Kershaw and the Los Angeles Dodgers will look to improve upon their gaudy numbers against the host San Francisco Giants when the clubs complete a four-game series on Thursday afternoon.
The visitors will attempt to sweep the series and improve to 8-0 against the archrivals since the All-Star break.
Kershaw (7-3, 2.66 ERA), a lifelong Dodger, has started more games against the Giants than against any other team. When he gets the ball on Thursday, he will be making his 53rd career start in his 55th overall head-to-head against the Giants, having gone 24-15 with a 1.99 ERA.
The 53rd start will tie Lew Burdette for the 18th-most against the Giants in the last 100 years. A 25th win would tie Tom Seaver for 15th among Giants opponents since 1922.
Kershaw, 34, is 14-6 with a 1.58 ERA in 27 career games, including 25 starts, at San Francisco’s Oracle Park.
In the 22-year history of the ballpark, Kershaw’s 14 wins are the most among any Giants opponent, and his 1.58 ERA is the lowest among all pitchers — including Giants — who have made 10 or more starts in the stadium.
Kershaw will be facing the Giants for the third time this season. He took a 3-2 loss in his last visit to San Francisco on June 11, when he allowed two runs in four innings. On July 24 in Los Angeles, Kershaw yielded four runs in 4 1/3 innings during a no-decision against the Giants.
He is winless in past two starts, having allowed nine runs (seven earned) and 13 hits in 9 2/3 innings against San Francisco and the Colorado Rockies.
If there is reason for optimism that the Giants might reverse the trend against Kershaw this time around, it’s because of the addition of J.D. Davis at the trade deadline.
The former Met, who went 1-for-4 in his San Francisco debut on Wednesday, has stepped into the batter’s box against Kershaw six times and has belted a pair of home runs.
The Dodgers won the first three games of the series 8-2, 9-5 and 3-0. Coupled with a four-game home sweep coming out of the All-Star break, the Dodgers have beaten their rival seven straight times for the first time since an eight-game run bridging the 2006 and 2007 seasons.
Newly acquired Dodger Joey Gallo suited up for the Wednesday game but saw no action. He watched fellow Los Angeles newcomer Miguel Vargas dazzle in his major league debut with a double, a single and two RBIs.
Gallo hopes his chance to leave behind the bad taste of a year in New York with the Yankees comes sooner rather than later.
“It’s nice to get a fresh start and a new clubhouse and a new place on the other side of the country,” he said. “And just get back to playing baseball again and trying to win games for the Dodgers.
If Gallo gets his first Dodgers start in the series finale, it’s scheduled to come against Jakob Junis (4-2, 2.78 ERA). The Giants right-hander pitched a 7-2 home win over the Dodgers on June 10, allowing two runs in five innings. It was his first career appearance against the Dodgers.
The 29-year-old threw four shutout innings, allowing five hits, without getting a decision in a 5-4 win over the Chicago Cubs on Saturday in his most recent outing.
Giants manager Gabe Kapler realizes it’s probably going to take more than just another strong effort by Junis to end the drought against the Dodgers.
“We’re just not getting enough big hits … making one or two pitches that change the course of the game for us … some miscues on the bases,” he lamented after his team’s 11th loss in 14 games since the All-Star break. “And that’s enough against a team like the Dodgers. You have to play your absolute best baseball. We’re not playing our best baseball.”