Royals @ Dodgers July 7, 2017: Maeda vs. Hammel; Wood to All-Star Game

Photo: Stacie Wheeler

Summertime in L.A. You can go to the beach during the day, and watch or listen to the Dodgers pull off another exciting comeback walk-off win at night. The Dodgers’ epic first half to the 2017 season will conclude this weekend with a three-game interleague series against the Kansas City Royals at Dodger Stadium opening Friday night.

Royals
Dodgers
7:10 p.m.
Los Angeles
RF
Merrifield
3B
Forsythe
2B
Torres
SS
Seager
CF
Cain
LF
Taylor
1B
Hosmer
1B
Bellinger
C
Perez
CF
Pederson
3B
Moustakas
C
Grandal
SS
Escobar 2B Utley
LF
Gordon
RF
Puig
P
Hammel (R)
P
Maeda (R)

The Dodgers (58-29) have only one more loss than the Houston Astros (59-28) on the season, and they have extended their lead in the NL West over Arizona to 5 1/2 games and Colorado to 8 1/2 after completing a three-game sweep of the D-backs. They’re 17-3 in their last 20 games.

The Royals (44-40) are bringing a four-game winning streak into the series opener at Dodger Stadium. Although the Dodgers are the hottest team in baseball right now, you can’t count out the Royals who are also playing well. Trying to bring back some of the 2015 Royal magic, K.C. is still in the playoff hunt in their respective division. They’re in second place, one game behind Cleveland, and have gone 18-6 in their last 24 games.

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Kenta Maeda (6-4, 4.56 ERA, 4.09 FIP) makes his second straight start since being slotted back into the rotation after Brandon McCarthy hit the 10-day DL with knee tendinitis. The Dodgers are likely shopping for another starter before the trade deadline, but there’s still hope that Maeda can turn things around after a rocky season thus far.

Maeda only lasted 3 2/3 innings in San Diego against the Padres in his last start, allowing five runs on eight hits in the 6-4 loss. It was a frustrating outing considering he had pitched well at home against the Angels on June 27, hurling seven innings of shutout ball. Maeda has never faced the Royals. Overall in his MLB career, he’s 1-2 with a 4.29 ERA in four interleague games.

Maeda will have to contend with some dangerous Kansas City hitters including Home Run Derby participant Mike Moustakas. Moose has the second-most home runs in the majors (25). One of my favorite catchers, Salvador Perez, has also hit 17 of his own homers.

Jason Hammel (4-7, 5.08 ERA, 4.52 FIP), the big right-hander, will have his work cut out for him when he tries to halt the Dodgers’ momentum. Hammel has struggled since last season when he was with the Cubs, and was left off their postseason roster during their championship run. Hammel subsequently signed a two-year deal with the Royals in the offseason, but he’s had an up and down year for K.C. so far.

Hammel’s last start, against the Twins, was disastrous. He allowed seven runs on nine hits with five strikeouts and two walks in 5 1/3 innings. It was disappointing for Ned Yost, who saw Hammel pitch solidly in the month of June, going 3-0 with a 2.51 ERA in five starts. Overall, he is 2-7 with a 5.00 ERA in 18 career games (14 starts) against the Dodgers but 0-5 at Dodger Stadium in nine games. Chase Utley is 6-for-12 with a home run and a triple against Hammel. Corey Seager hit a homer off him in 2016.

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There will be even more Dodger Blue in Miami, because Alex Wood was named as a replacement All-Star. Well-deserved. The Dodgers now have six All-Stars.

Dustin wrote about the Dodgers’ draft signings today. They signed top draft pick Jeren Kendall and others before the deadline.

About Stacie Wheeler

Stacie Wheeler

Stacie Wheeler, born and raised in So Cal, has been writing about the Dodgers since 2010. She wrote daily as the Co-Editor of Lasorda’s Lair for five long years, and she has also written for Dodgers Nation and Dodger Blue 1958. She currently contributes to The Hardball Times. Stacie graduated from the University Of Southern California with a bachelor’s degree in Cinema-Television. You can also watch her videos on her YouTube channel, DishingUpTheDodgers.