Giants @ Dodgers August 25, 2016: The show must go on

Despite the news of the shocking trade that sent long-tenured Dodger A.J. Ellis to Philadelphia earlier today, the show must go on. Ellis was a leader in the clubhouse, and he was one of the nicest baseball players I have ever met, but the reality is that the Dodgers are in the middle of a pennant race. Whether it’s an incremental upgrade or not, Carlos Ruiz has hit left-handed pitching well over his 11-season career (.275/.376/.438/.814), a weakness of this team that has already been discussed here.

A.J. will surely be missed. I don’t like that they made Clayton Kershaw cry, but perhaps they will be reunited in the future when Ellis becomes a coach or manager. I think the only way to get over this is to methodically crush the Giants.

7:10 p.m. PT
Los Angeles
 Belt  RF  Segedin
Moore (L)
Stripling (R)

The Dodgers go for a three-game sweep of the Giants Thursday night, and a fifth straight win would extend their lead in the NL West to four games. San Francisco has looked listless during the series, and their devil magic hasn’t been working. It also helps that the Dodgers’ offense has been red hot led by Justin Turner, a legitimate MVP candidate in Corey Seager and a rejuvenated Adrian Gonzalez, who is riding a 17-game hitting streak. Rich Hill‘s Dodger debut on Wednesday was outstanding as well. With the eventual return of Kershaw to the rotation (he’s scheduled to throw another bullpen session Friday), the Dodgers could very well be on their way to their fourth consecutive NL West title.

Of course you can’t count the Giants out. Even though they may be in a slump now, they somehow always find a way to go on some nauseatingly amazing run just at the right time. There are 36 games remaining on the Dodgers regular season schedule, and those final three contests at AT&T Park in October could very well be the difference between the Wild Card and the division crown unless the Dodgers continue to retain space between themselves and the Giants in the standings.

The Giants have not collected a single hit off Ross Stripling (3-4, 4.04 ERA, 3.76 FIP) yet. The right-hander threw 7 1/3 innings without allowing a base hit against the Giants in his Major League debut back on April 8. The Dodgers went on to win the game 3-2, but it was Stripling’s historic start that will be remembered. At the time Dave Roberts‘ decision to pull him after 100 pitches in the eighth inning was criticized by some. After a record number of starting pitchers landed on the disabled list, it is clear that the decision was definitely the right call.

Stripling was put in a holding pattern for awhile in order to limit his innings after undergoing Tommy John surgery in 2014. He’s been shuffled around between Triple-A Oklahoma City and the Dodgers, pitching in a starting role as well as out of the bullpen. He’s done an admirable job filling in as needed throughout the season when a plethora of pitchers fell to injury.

Stripling is 1-1 with a 3.71 ERA in three starts in August, but he has also allowed three home runs this month. Luckily the Giants aren’t hitting a lot of those. They have the least number of home runs (27) in the NL since the All-Star break. The Dodgers have hit exactly twice as many (54).

While we delight in the thought of watching Hill befuddle opposing batters for the remainder of the season and into the postseason for the Dodgers — hopefully sans blister — we can also relish in the fact that the Giants’ trade deadline acquisition, Matt Moore (7-10, 4.18 ERA, 4.52 FIP), has not panned out well for them so far. Moore was decent with Tampa Bay (7-7, 4.08 ERA, 4.51 FIP, 7.5 K/9, 2.8 BB/9), but he has yet to notch a victory in orange and black yet, and his command has been awful so far (6.7 BB/9).

Of course, the Dodgers faced Moore on May 3 and July 27 when he was still with the Rays. The lefty allowed seven runs on eight hits, including home runs to Trayce Thompson and Joc Pederson in the 10-5 Dodger win in May. Overall he is 1-1 with a 5.73 ERA against the Dodgers this year and has allowed eight runs, 12 hits, seven walks and seven strikeouts in 11 innings pitched over two starts.

With A.J. gone and Austin Barnes injured (hand), the Dodgers had to make some roster moves.

We say goodbye to one long-time Dodger, but we may be saying hello again to another.

Defeating the Giants always feels twice as satisfying as a win over any other team. A series sweep of the Giants is even better. The problem is that long fly balls in the eighth inning by Brandon Crawford in a one-run game take off at least five years of my life.

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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.