Make sure you drop by our friends, Cards Droppings, for their analysis and generally solid baseball coverage. Thanks to them, we bring you a series preview for the Cardinals and Dodgers.
Now that the slugfest in Arizona is over, the Cardinals travel to Hollywood to take on the Los Angeles Dodgers. I’m sure all of the Cardinal hitters would love to stay at Chase Field, as Dodger Stadium is a much tougher place to hit. In three games against Arizona, the Cardinals went from being at the bottom of the league in hitting all the way up to fourth. They scored 31 runs in three games, and the early season talk (from me, admittedly) about our struggling offense has vanished. Even washed up Albert Pujols has raised his average above the Mendoza line. Now, the team moves on to a four game set with LA and their very formidable pitching staff. Hopefully we can keep the offense rolling, but that will be a tough task.
The Dodgers are managed by Don Mattingly, aka Donnie Baseball. He was a childhood favorite of mine, and my mom spent countless hours (and dollars) shuttling me around to various baseball card shops looking for that Mattingly card that I just “had to have”. I still have the collection, and if it wasn’t for Mattingly’s notoriously bad back, that said collection would be worth quite a bit more than it is today. Perhaps if Mattingly finds his calling as a manager, he’ll make it into the HOF after all. He’s got a long way to go, and with the offense that the Dodgers have, he’ll have to be Casey Stengel, Gene Mauch, Earl Weaver and Sparky Anderson all wrapped into one.
The Cardinals will get to say hello to former teammate Blake Hawksworth as well. He was traded for Ryan Theriot, so I’m sure he’ll be looking forward to facing his former mates (save for perhaps Albert Pujols).
Offensively, the Dodgers are a bit rough around the edges, to say the least. Outfielders Andre Ethier and Matt Kemp are superstars and I’m sure they’ll do their share of damage this weekend. Kemp really seems to have found himself this year and a lot of the baggage that he’s carried with him in previous seasons seems to have vanished. Maybe it was the breakup with Rhianna that made him a changed man. Ethier hits lefthanded, and I’m sure that we’ll see a Trever Miller / Ethier matchup more than once this series. It’s a bit unfortunate that the Cardinals will be without a second lefthander due to the Brian Tallet injury. It would have been nice to have him available to face both Ethier and first baseman James Loney. Other than the aforementioned Ethier and Kemp, the Dodgers are really pretty brutal. Tony Gwynn Jr is nowhere near the player his dad was (although we’ll see Marcus Thames in the lineup against the lefty Garcia tonight). Shortstop Rafael Furcal is already out with an injury, and he’ll be replaced by Jamey Carroll. At third, Casey Blake is serviceable at best. Rod Barajas, Juan Uribe and James Loney aren’t that great, either. Bottom line–this should be a team that can be pitched to. We’ll see if the Cardinal hurlers can actually execute that.
The strength of the Dodgers is their pitching. We’ll face three very tough pitchers this series in Kershaw, Billingsley and Kuroda. In relief, the Dodgers have fireballer Jonathan Broxton and dominate lefty Hon Chi Kuo. Matt Guerrier is another tough righty and former Cardinal Mike MacDougal is familiar to all of you redbird fans.
Check out the pitching matchups and in depth breakdown of each game by clicking here.