Dodgers Start Critical Series Against Giants

The rivals have played each other even entering their last three-game battle

Hump day could be a big one for the Dodgers.

Clayton Kershaw (20-3) will take the mound Wednesday against the second place Giants with a chance to wrap up the club’s second straight NL West title.

But, first they'll have to take care of Monday and Tuesday.

The club is going all out for the series, with the hashtag #DodgerBlueOut already buzzing amongst fans on Twitter.

The Dodgers come into the series having creamed the Cubs. They took three out of four in the series and averaged nearly 10 runs a game in the process.

The Giants, on the other hand, let the San Diego Padres, the seven games under .500 San Diego Padres, sweep them out of town, dropping them 4 ½ games behind the Dodgers in the division.

LA pushed Dan Haren’s start back a day to get their staff set for the series. Haren (13-11) will square off against Dodger killer Jake Peavy (7-13) in the opening act Monday night. Peavy is 14-3 lifetime against the Dodgers. 

Zack Greinke (15-8) and Madison Bumgarner (18-9) will go in game two and Kershaw and Tim Hudson (9-12) will battle in game three.

I would say runs will be at a premium with those names taking the hill but in their last matchup September 12-14, the two teams combined to score 32 runs in three games.

The series will also feature three of the hottest hitters in baseball the second half of the season.

On the Dodgers side, Matt Kemp and Adrian Gonzalez have done what Hanley Ramirez and Yasiel Puig did last year - carry the offense into the playoffs.

Their stats since July 18 (for players with at least 200 at bats):

Gonzalez: .326 AVG, 19 2Bs, 11 HRs, 52 RBIs, .378 OBP, .561 SLG, .939 OPS
Kemp: .311 AVG, 15 2Bs, 15 HRs, 49 RBIs, .370 OBP, .594 SLG, .964 OPS

For perspective, they’re first and second in the NL in RBI’s in the second half and Kemp leads the NL in slugging percentage.

For his part, all Gonzalez has done is quietly put together another 100-RBI season (he currently leads the majors with 112). And, Kemp has made Ned Colletti look like the smartest guy in the world for not trading him before the deadline.

But, the player who may be swinging an even bigger stick right now?

Buster Posey.

His breakdown, using the same criteria as Kemp and Gonzalez:

Posey: .354 AVG, 12 2Bs, 11 HR’s, 40 RBIs, .402 OBP, .574 SLG, .976 OPS

Not only has the 27-year-old led the league in hitting and OPS in the second half but he’s a huge reason why the Giants will, at the very least, make the playoffs as a Wild Card.

Naturally, the two teams have played to an 8-8 draw with three games remaining between them.

They’ve both beaten each other up, been pushed into a corner and been on the verge of throwing in the towel. But, in each case, they’ve managed to fight back.

So, here they stand, toe-to-toe with the title on the line.

Let’s see who can answer the bell one last time.

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