Pittsburgh Pirates vs. Los Angeles Dodgers Series Preview



Starting Thursday, the Los Angeles Dodgers play host to the Pittsburgh Pirates for a four-game series between two 2013 playoff teams going in opposite directions. The Pirates, current six games under .500, come in having lost their last two after winning six of eight. The Dodgers had a modest three-game win streak snapped Wednesday night, but remain in position as an N.L. Wild Card team if the season ended today.


Home: Los Angeles Dodgers

Record: (29-25, 11-14 home)

Away: Pittsburgh Pirates

Record: (23-29, 7-16 road)

Season Series: no games played (first game of seven 2014 contests)

Key stat:

25 out of the Pirates' 52 games this year have been decided by one run - by far the most in the Major Leagues.

Dodgers outlook:

The Dodgers had a dream Memorial Day weekend between Josh Beckett's no-hitter on Sunday and Hyun-Jin Ryu's flirtation with perfection on Monday.

Reality has struck, however, with left fielder Carl Crawford out for at least a couple of weeks with a sprained ankle.

This puts the focus squarely back on struggling slugger Matt Kemp who went 0-for-4 with 2 Ks in Wednesday's 3-2 loss to the Reds - not exactly lighting the world on fire in his first start in six games.

Kemp's performance in Crawford's absence could be crucial to whether or not the team decides to shop him to the likes of the Boston Red Sox (who are looking for outfield help) closer to the trade deadline.

Pirates outlook:

The Pirates' inconsistent 2014 campaign makes a stop in Los Angeles, with the team looking to regain some of the form which propelled them to an N.L. Wild Card berth in 2013.

The Pirates had won four straight before losing three of their last four to the Nationals and Mets.

As of late, the problem has been with the offense. The team has scratched across just nine runs in their past four games, and 19 in their past seven.

What to watch for:

Francisco Liriano (0-5, 5.06) gets a chance on Friday night to turn his dismal 2014 season around in Josh Beckett's (3-1, 2.43) first start since making history.

If Liriano can steal the show in a game that will have extra national attention because of his opponent, it could go a long way in boosting his confidence going into the middle third of the season.

Also, Sunday's game has been picked up by ESPN for Sunday Night Baseball, with the Dodgers' Zack Greinke (8-1, 2.18) looking for his N.L-leading ninth win against the Pirates' Edison Volquez (2-4, 4.30).

Volquez has struggled on the road so far this season, posting a 5.40 ERA in four starts.

What they are saying about the Dodgers:

Dodgers' Carl Crawford to the disabled list (Official Site of the Dodgers)

What they are saying about the Pirates:

How to fix the Pittsburgh Pirates' problems (Rum Bunter)

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