MIAMI (SportsDirect Inc.) — Clayton Kershaw hopes to make a triumphant return from a two-month absence due to injury on Friday when the Los Angeles Dodgers begin a season-high 10-game road trip with the first of three contests against the Miami Marlins.
Kershaw, who has been sidelined since June 26 with a herniated disk, looked no worse for wear during a rehab start at High-A Rancho Cucamonga on Saturday – allowing one hit and striking out five in three scoreless innings.
“It’ll be fun,” the three-time Cy Young Award winner told the Los Angeles Times. “It’s been a long time coming. I’m excited to get back out there and get going.”
The Dodgers have been having fun by outscoring the opposition 30-10 during their five-game winning streak to build a season-best five-game lead over second-place San Francisco in the National League West.
The mood was decidedly different in April as Miami outscored Los Angeles 16-8 to sweep the four-game series at Dodger Stadium, but the Marlins had dropped five in a row and 10 of 11 before a 6-0 rout of Philadelphia on Wednesday.
Martin Prado drove in three runs in the series finale versus the Phillies, but the 32-year-old Venezuelan is just 5-for-34 with five strikeouts in his career against Kershaw.
TV: 7:10 p.m. ET, SportsNet Los Angeles, FSN Florida (Miami)
PITCHING MATCHUP: Dodgers LH Clayton Kershaw (11-2, 1.79 ERA) vs. Marlins RH Jose Fernandez (13-8, 3.03)
Kershaw is expected to be on a pitch count in his first major-league action since yielding four runs on nine hits in six innings of a 4-3 setback at Pittsburgh on June 26. While the Dodgers have an eye on October with Kershaw’s return, the 28-year-old hurler was blasted for a season-high five runs in his April encounter with Miami. Giancarlo Stanton provided the big blow with a three-run homer against Kershaw, who has surrendered four extra-base hits to the 26-year-old slugger in his career.
Fernandez fell to 1-4 with a 4.54 ERA in his last seven starts after allowing seven runs on 12 hits in Saturday’s 8-3 setback at Cleveland. While the 24-year-old Cuban has yielded 48 hits in 39 2/3 innings, a return to Marlins Park traditionally has cured all of his ails as Fernandez owns a 10-2 home mark with a slim 1.91 ERA this season. The young superstar has pitched 160 1/3 innings in 2016, and manager Don Mattingly told reporters on Wednesday that the team would consider shutting him down for the season if the Miami fades from the playoff picture.
1. Miami OF Ichiro Suzuki (3,021 major-league hits), who is 8-for-18 with four RBIs and five runs scored in his last five games, is two hits shy of matching Lou Brock for 25th on baseball’s all-time list.
2. Los Angeles mercurial OF Yasiel Puig is 4-for-9 with two homers, five RBIs and four runs scored since returning from Triple-A Oklahoma City.
3. Marlins C J.T. Realmuto has six RBIs and four runs scored during his eight-game hitting streak.
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