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Light-hitting Cubs face outstanding Dodgers pitching

Sportsnaut
Apr 30, 2022; Los Angeles, California, USA; Los Angeles Dodgers starting pitcher Clayton Kershaw (22) acknowledges fans after striking out Detroit Tigers first baseman Spencer Torkelson (20) during the fourth inning at Dodger Stadium. The strikeout is the 2,697th of Kershaw   s career and puts him above former pitcher Don Sutton for most career strikeouts all time with the Dodgers. Mandatory Credit: Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports
Credit: Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports

The Los Angeles Dodgers have pitched better than any team in the majors through the first month of the season.

That doesn’t bode well for a Chicago Cubs team that is scuffling at the plate.

The Dodgers eye a fourth consecutive victory Saturday in the first game of a split doubleheader at Chicago. The Cubs enter the twin bill after getting swept in two games by the Chicago White Sox.

Los Angeles closed the season’s first month with a 5-1 loss to Detroit on April 30, then outscored the Tigers and the Giants 18-5 to win three straight. After allowing a run in each of the two games vs. San Francisco, the Dodgers enter play Friday leading the majors in fewest runs allowed (57), team ERA (2.21) and opponents’ batting average (.190).

“Top to bottom, we have a lot of good arms,” Dodgers manager Dave Roberts said.

After Friday’s scheduled series opener was postponed due to rain, Los Angeles’ Clayton Kershaw (3-0, 2.35 ERA) is expected to stay on schedule for Game 1 of the doubleheader on Saturday afternoon. The star left-hander has allowed one or no runs in three of his four starts, including on April 30, when he gave up one and four hits in six innings vs. Detroit.

Kershaw also struck out seven, leaving him with 2,700 for his career and breaking Don Sutton’s franchise record.

“I understand that the Dodgers are a historical franchise and have been around a long time, so the guys that are on that list that I was fortunate enough to pass, that’s a big deal,” Kershaw said.

He recorded 103 of those strikeouts while going 7-4 with a 3.00 in 13 starts vs. the Cubs. Chicago batters have struck out at least 12 times in each of their past four games overall.

On April 23, the Cubs rolled to a 21-0 home win over Pittsburgh. Since then, they have batted .183 and struck out 97 times while being outscored 42-19 and losing seven of nine. Chicago has managed just nine runs over the past six contests.

Cubs rookie Seiya Suzuki hit .429 with four homers in his first 10 games, but .154 with no home runs and 18 strikeouts in the past 18.

“I really don’t think we’re far off and need to change any game plans or anything,” second baseman Nick Madrigal said. “I just think it’s part of baseball.”

The Cubs swept a three-game May home set from Los Angeles last season. After a 4-3 loss to the White Sox on Wednesday, the Cubs are 1-7 at home since winning three of the first four.

Cubs left-hander Drew Smyly (1-2, 2.79 ERA), is scheduled to come off the bereavement list to start Game 1. Smyly threw 9 2/3 scoreless innings in his first two starts, but he yielded runs six over 9 2/3 innings while losing his past two outings.

Over his career, Smyly is 0-1 with an ERA of 4.24 in five appearances, three of them starts, against the Dodgers.

Chicago left-hander Daniel Norris (0-1, 6.00 ERA) is scheduled to come out of the bullpen for Game 2 and make his first start since August 2020.

Norris allowed three runs in a one-inning appearance against the Dodgers last season.

Norris is scheduled to be opposed by Tyler Anderson (2-0, 2.55 ERA). The Dodgers left-hander made his first two 2022 appearances in relief, then allowed three runs and nine hits over 9 2/3 innings while making two straight starts for the injured Andrew Heaney.

Anderson is 3-3 over his career against the Cubs, with a 3.95 ERA in seven appearances.

Dodgers star Mookie Betts is batting .344 without a strikeout in nine games after hitting .189 and fanning 16 times in his first 13 games this season.

–Field Level Media