first_imgLOS ANGELES >> For the Dodgers, the path to the postseason becomes more clear by the day. Each time they beat a right-handed starting pitcher, as they did in a 5-2 victory over the Colorado Rockies on Friday, their path to the National League Championship Series becomes more clear, too.Two of the Dodgers’ four hits against Rockies starter Jon Gray cleared the fences on a day when their own starter, Scott Kazmir, lasted just one inning. Gray, whose previous start was a four-hit, 16-strikeout, complete-game shutout at Coors Field, labored against a patient lineup loaded with left-handers. Gray threw 106 pitches in only four innings. A two-run single by switch-hitter Yasmani Grandal (batting left-handed) gave the Dodgers a 2-0 lead in the first inning. Joc Pederson’s 24th home run of the season and Andre Ethier’s first came on back-to-back pitches in the fourth inning.That was all the run support the Dodgers’ bullpen needed. Ross Stripling (5-8) and five other relievers allowed one earned run over the final eight innings, preserving the victory.At least Gray’s misery has company.The Dodgers’ .768 on-base plus slugging percentage against righties ranks third among National League teams. On Saturday, they will face Chad Bettis, another right-hander, needing only one day to turn their magic number (2) into a fourth consecutive National League West title.The San Francisco Giants lost to the San Diego Padres earlier Friday, and trail the Dodgers by seven games in the division. They have eight games remaining on their schedule, too. The Giants and Padres begin play Saturday at 5:40 p.m., a half-hour before the first pitch at Dodger Stadium. If Clayton Kershaw can coax the Dodgers to victory, the division might well be clinched by the time of the final out.Making his first start since Aug. 22, Kazmir left after throwing only 19 pitches because of right intercostal spasms. He allowed two hits and was bailed out by a strong throw from left fielder Andrew Toles to retire Nolan Arenado at home plate to end the first inning.Kazmir was already an unlikely choice to make a postseason start for the Dodgers. He hadn’t pitched in a month due to inflammation in his neck. His only minor league rehabilitation game during that span lasted less than one inning.The Dodgers have healthier starters on their roster like Brett Anderson, Jose De Leon and Brock Stewart. Another, Brandon McCarthy, is due to come off the disabled list any day now. Each of them seems more likely to join Kershaw, Rich Hill and Kenta Maeda if the Dodgers need a fourth starter in the playoffs.While Kazmir’s chances of pitching in October diminished, Stripling’s grew. He threw three shutout innings, allowing two hits, two runs and striking out four. The rookie right-hander is in the running to be a long reliever in October.The Washington Nationals, the Dodgers’ likely opponent in the NL Division Series, feature a right-handed heavy rotation. Four-fifths of their current starters — Max Scherzer, Tanner Roark, Joe Ross, A.J. Cole — throw with their right hand. So does Stephen Strasburg, who is on the disabled list with a flexor mass strain. The only exception is southpaw Gio Gonzalez.These thoughts were more than allowed for the announced crowd of 52,320 at Dodger Stadium. For a night, they were encouraged.center_img Newsroom GuidelinesNews TipsContact UsReport an Errorlast_img

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *