Padres take road woes to Dodger Stadium
LOS ANGELES — By any measure, the Los Angeles Dodgers are coming off a wildly successful road trip … and home is where they play better than anybody.
The San Diego Padres, meanwhile, will roll into Dodger Stadium on Friday night with the fourth-worst road record in the National League and on a slide that has seen them lose seven of 10. It is a downturn that started after an uplifting four-game win streak toward the latter part of July.
The Dodgers, owners of the best record in baseball, 81-33, are a scorching 47-13 in their own yard.
They have been scintillating on the road, too, having just gone 7-2 on a cross-country journey that saw them face the Atlanta Braves, New York Mets and Arizona Diamondbacks. Had it not been for a Tyler Flowers grand slam in Atlanta and a Jake Lamb slam at Arizona this week, the Dodgers might have run the table on the trip.
By taking two of three against the Diamondbacks, including an 8-6 win Thursday, Los Angeles is 15-0-3 in its past 18 series.
The Dodgers are an NL-best 34-20 on the road to go along with all of their home achievements.
If the odds did not already look stacked against the Padres, they will have to face Dodgers left-hander Rich Hill, the NL’s pitcher of the month in July.
Hill (8-4, 3.47 ERA) did not give up more than two runs in any of his five July outings, a stretch that started with seven shutout innings against the Padres on July 1. He was merely mortal in his first August start, though, allowing three runs in five innings during a no-decision against the Mets on Saturday.
Hill is 3-3 with a 3.90 ERA against the Padres in six career starts, and 2-0 this year with a 0.75 ERA in 12 innings.
“It’s a really good feeling to show up every single day, regardless of the circumstances, the opponent, the location, and expect to win,” Dodgers manager Dave Roberts said this week. “And we’re doing that.”
The Padres, on the other hand, continue to play for the future. At 50-64, they are a demoralizing 31 games behind the Dodgers in the NL West standings. And there are only 48 games remaining on the schedule. So a trip to Dodger Stadium gives the visitors from the south a chance to show they can be competitive with the best baseball has to offer.
Left-hander Clayton Richard (5-12, 5.17 ERA) could be the antidote for all that power the Dodgers have shown this season. Richard’s 271 ground balls induced lead the NL, and his .592 ground-ball percentage is second in all of baseball to Toronto’s Marcus Stroman (.629).
Richard is 7-6 with a 4.13 ERA in 22 career appearances (20 starts) against the Dodgers. He is 1-2 vs. Los Angeles this year with a 6.23 ERA in three starts (17 1/3 innings).
While Dodgers rookie Cody Bellinger has been one of the stories to watch in baseball with his 33 home runs, the Padres have not been without their own rookie pop. Not only does San Diego rookie Hunter Renfroe have 20 home runs, but fellow rookie Manuel Margot has 10, making them just the second pair of rookies in Padres history with double digits in homers. They joined Kyle Blanks and Will Venable (2009).
The Padres’ Wil Myers, who hit his 23rd home run of the season Thursday in a 10-3 defeat at Cincinnati, has no qualms about leading the young Padres into Dodger Stadium.
“You look at our team, it’s different from Opening Day,” Myers told MLB.com. “You look at a lot of guys who have come in here, stepped up, come to play with something to prove. … A lot of these guys are eager to be on that stage, myself included. We’re going into L.A. to face the best team in baseball, on possibly the biggest stage in baseball. So we’re going out there to try to prove something.”
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