The Los Angeles Dodgers are the hottest team in baseball as they roll into the Dallas-Fort Worth Metroplex on Friday to begin a three-game interleague series with the hapless Texas Rangers.
It will be Jackie Robinson Day all around the majors in tribute to the Dodgers player who first broke the color barrier in 1947.
The Dodgers own the best record in baseball 24-9 after a doubleheader sweep of San Francisco on Thursday and have won 13 of their past 15 games.
Both contests on Thursday were seven innings, with Los Angeles beating the Giants 7-0 in the opener behind Clayton Kershaw, who allowed four hits over six innings, and then taking the nightcap 2-0 as seven Dodgers pitchers combined for a two-hitter.
The doubleheader came about when the Giants and Dodgers agreed to postpone their game on Wednesday in support of protests that have arisen against racial injustice and Sunday’s police shooting of Jacob Blake in Kenosha, Wis.
Kershaw said it was decided late Wednesday night that the teams would play the doubleheader and said he “almost forgot” the rule change that shortened the game to seven innings.
“It’s a different animal,” Kershaw told mlb.com after Thursday’s win. “It just puts a little more emphasis on zeros early in the game. You don’t want to put your team down. Sometimes, you give up a run early and it’s not a big deal, your team can come back, especially ours. But when you score that first run, it’s big to keep that lead as long as you can.”
The Dodgers placed All-Star pitcher Walker Buehler on the 10-day injured list with a finger blister on his pitching hand on Thursday, just before he was scheduled to start Game 2 of the doubleheader against the Giants.
Texas was scheduled to play Oakland on Thursday in the finale of a four-game series with the AL West-leading Athletics, but that game was also postponed in support of the protests.
The Rangers were informed that Oakland’s players had voted against playing Thursday after both teams had discussed the situation before and after Wednesday’s game.
The Rangers supported the decision and issued a statement saying: “We respect the decision by the Oakland A’s players to postpone (Thursday’s) game. We stand with all those who condemn racial injustice and are committed to helping bring about an end to systemic racism.”
The game will be rescheduled as part of a doubleheader on Sept. 12, with the first of two seven-inning games at Globe Life Field.
The Rangers have lost 10 of their past 11 games, including the last two of the truncated series with Oakland.
Los Angeles will send right-hander Dustin May to the hill on Friday. May (1-1, 2.79 ERA, 20 strikeouts in 29 innings) has pitched effectively this season but has been hampered by high pitch counts that have kept him from going deep into games.
It’s a homecoming for the 22-year-old May, who is from Justin, Texas, just north of Fort Worth.
The Rangers will counter with left-hander Mike Minor (0-5, 6.75 ERA, 29 strikeouts in 29 1/3 innings). Minor is 0-2 with 4.97 ERA in three starts at home this season.
This is Minor’s first start against the Dodgers since Aug. 29, 2018, and he is 1-3 with a 2.62 ERA in eight career games (seven starts) versus Los Angeles.
–Field Level Media