Orioles @ Dodgers July 5, 2016: Dodgers go for sixth straight win

The Dodgers look to win their sixth straight game on Tuesday night and secure the series win over Baltimore with Kenta Maeda on the mound. Recent offensive fireworks plus excellent pitching, despite the loss of Clayton Kershaw, has put the Dodgers within five games of the first-place Giants in the NL West. Baltimore is on the verge of losing their sixth consecutive game, giving the Dodgers an ample opportunity to continue their winning streak.

Maeda (7-5, 2.82), who holds the same record as today’s date, gave the Dodgers a solid one-run six-inning performance in his last start on the heels of the Kershaw injury news. Maeda is 0-1 in interleague play this season, the Dodgers having lost to the Blue Jays and Angels in two May starts.

7:10 p.m. PT
Los Angeles
CF  Jones  2B  Utley
LF  Kim  SS  Seager
3B  Machado  CF  Thompson
1B  Davis  1B  Gonzalez
RF  Trumbo  RF  Puig
 C  Wieters  C  Grandal
 2B  Schoop  LF  Kendrick
 SS  Hardy  3B  Taylor
Tillman (R)
Maeda (R)


With Kershaw temporarily shelved, Maeda is arguably the Dodgers best starting pitcher. He holds a sub-3.00 ERA, 8.64 K/9 (19th in NL), 1.09 WHIP (13th in NL), 3.44 FIP (14th in NL) and is worth 2 WAR (second to Kershaw’s 5.5 WAR amongst qualified Dodger starters). Maeda has proven he merits the 8-year $25 million contract the Dodgers gave him despite the initial concerns about his health and potential in MLB.

Chris Tillman (10-2, 3.71), a Southern California native, was born four days before Maeda. The big right-hander has notched double digit wins, but he has struggled over his last three starts in which he allowed 14 runs on 21 hits in 14 2/3 innings. He lost to the Mariners in his last start after making 112 pitches and allowing four runs on six hits in 4 2/3 innings.

This will be Tillman’s first career start against the Dodgers. He is 4-1 with a 4.88 ERA in 16 career interleague starts. Howie Kendrick faced Tillman when he was with the Angels and has three hits in eight at-bats against him.

The Dodgers offense has really turned a corner, and their resurgence at the plate has been thanks to production from several key players who were in epic slumps earlier this season. Yasiel Puig went 2-for-4 with a home run in the Fourth of July victory over the Orioles on Monday and is hitting .381 in 13 games since returning from the disabled list. Corey Seager is riding a 17-game hitting streak going into Tuesday’s game, the longest in the NL this season. Justin Turner is hitting .321 with 18 hits including three home runs over the last 15 games. Even Yasmani Grandal has looked better at the plate, and he is hitting .375/.500/1.125 with two home runs in July so far.

Trayce Thompson, who has hit 13 home runs for the Dodgers so far, is hitting third in Tuesday’s lineup. Kendrick is once again in left field, and Chris Taylor starts at third base in lieu of Turner.

Julio Urias was optioned to Triple-A Oklahoma City, and left-handed reliever Luis Avilan was recalled thus ending the teenager’s major league stint and putting his bromance with Maeda on hold. The talented southpaw made eight starts for the Dodgers, going 1-2 with a 4.95 ERA and 44 strikeouts over 36 1/3 innings. Dustin wrote about Urias’ development and career path this morning.

The Dodgers will get a fresh arm out of the bullpen in Avilan until Hyun-jin Ryu is activated for his season debut on Thursday. Avilan has only pitched one inning for the Dodgers this season. He allowed three runs on three hits in four relief appearances (27.00 ERA), including the disastrous blown save in Colorado on April 24. In Triple-A, he is 0-3 with a 4.55 ERA in 26 games. He’s struck out 29 batters in 27 2/3 innings.

All-Star selections were also announced Tuesday afternoon, and the Dodgers have three National League representatives including Seager, Kershaw and (finally!) Kenley Jansen. Kershaw, now disabled, would have likely started for the NL, and it is his sixth All-Star selection. It is the first All-Star nod for both rookie Seager and veteran Jansen. Jonathan Broxton and my favorite bat flipper Hung-Chih Kuo were the last Dodger relievers to be on the All-Star Team back in 2010. The All-Star Game is Tuesday, July 12 in San Diego.

The Dodgers are 7-1 since Kershaw’s last start. Perhaps there is something to the notion that the team can rally while their perennial MVP is unable to provide his immensely influential contribution. It’s hard to imagine the Dodgers going far in the postseason without Kershaw, but they certainly can survive for now.

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About 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, Dodger Blue 1958 and The Hardball Times. She currently contributes to True Blue LA. 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.