Los Angeles Dodgers right-hander Kenta Maeda is expected to face fellow countryman Shohei Ohtani of the Los Angeles Angels for the first time in their major league careers Friday night in the series opener at Angel Stadium.
The Dodgers (47-39) have won four in a row to climb eight games over .500 for the first time this season. They moved two percentage points ahead of the Arizona Diamondbacks (48-40) for first place in the National League West after Arizona lost its series opener at the San Diego Padres 6-3 on Thursday night.
The Angels (44-44) completed a 10-game road trip with a 4-1 loss against the Seattle Mariners on Thursday night Authentic Rashaad Penny Jersey , dropping 12 games behind the Mariners for the second wild card from the American League. They’ll try to avoid falling below .500 for the first time since losing their season opener.
Ohtani, who turned 24 on Thursday, is in his first major league season after playing for the Nippon Ham Fighters the previous five years. He began this season as a right-handed pitcher and designated hitter and was having success as a two-way player until he was placed on the disabled list June 8 with a grade 2 sprain of his right ulnar collateral ligament.
He received stem-cell therapy and a platelet-rich-plasma injection to help heal the ligament without surgery, and was activated Tuesday before the Angels opened the three-game series against the Mariners.
Maeda, 30, pitched in Japan for the Hiroshima Toyo Carp from 2008-15 and faced Ohtani a few times, but told the Southern California News Group earlier this week that he considers this a new challenge.
“The image I had about him as a hitter has changed, so my approach to the way I pitch to him will change,” Maeda said through an interpreter. “I’m just going to approach it as if I’m facing a new hitter.”
Maeda (5-5, 3.36) has pitched well since mid-May, when he didn’t allow a run in back-to-back starts against the Miami Marlins and Colorado Rockies.
His past two outings have been nearly as good.
Maeda blanked the Chicago Cubs for seven innings in a 2-1 victory June 25, and then allowed three runs (two earned) and five hits over seven innings in a 3-1 loss to the Rockies on Saturday.
Maeda has made two career starts against the Angels and is 1-1 with a 3.27 ERA. He threw seven shutout innings in his last appearance against Los Angeles on June 27, 2017 and the Dodgers won 4-0 at Dodger Stadium.
The starting lineup the Angels used against Seattle right-hander Mike Leake on Wednesday is a combined 3-for-25 off Maeda. Angels catcher Martin Maldonado is hitless in eight at-bats against Maeda, which may open the door for rookie Jose Briceno to get his first start since Sunday.
Angels rookie right-hander Jaime Barria was originally scheduled to start the series opener against the Dodgers, but was moved up to Thursday after left-hander Tyler Skaggs went on the 10-day disabled list with a right adductor strain, becoming the 10th starter for the Angels to go on the DL this season.
Felix Pena (1-0 Authentic Shaquem Griffin Jersey , 3.71 ERA) will make the start for the Angels and try to continue his transition from relief pitcher to starter.
He has made two career appearances against the Dodgers, both out of the bullpen covering three scoreless innings overall.
MILWAUKEE — Lorenzo Cain won’t be available Wednesday when the Milwaukee Brewers wrap up a two-game interleague series with the Kansas City Royals at Miller Park.
The Brewers had hoped that by resting Cain on Sunday against St. Louis ahead of a team off-day Monday, the veteran center fielder would be ready to return to action against his former team.
Instead, they’ll go at least another week without him after placing on the disabled list with a strained groin.
“After going through treatment the last couple of days, he’s unable to play,” manager Craig Counsell said. “We think it’s mild and it’s going to be a short stay (on the DL) but we just didn’t think it was worth waiting three or four days to see if he’s ready to go.
“He’s only out for eight days, after missing two already, then we’ll reassess. We’re hoping it’s on the short end.”
Even if it’s a short stay, the loss is a big one for the Brewers, who signed Cain to a five-year $80 million contract this winter. He’s been a force atop the Brewers’ lineup, batting .291 with eight home runs and 26 RBIs while posting a .394 on-base percentage and .832 OPS.
“He’s a good player; he’s having a great season,” Counsell said. “But this is part of a baseball season. We have to be equipped to handle losses. I think we are. It’s been a strength of this team so far and how we’ve gotten to this point.”
With Cain out, the Brewers recalled outfielder Keon Broxton from Colorado Springs.
Broxton is expected to join the team Wednesday. It will mark the first big league appearance of the season for Broxton, who hit 20 home runs with 21 stolen bases in 143 games for Milwaukee last season but became the odd man out after Cain and Christian Yelich were acquired over the offseason.
“He’s been swinging the bat pretty well lately,” Counsell said of Broxton, who was batting .263 with nine home runs and 35 RBIs at Colorado Springs.
Counsell said Travis Shaw will likely sit out again Wednesday Authentic Orlando Brown Jr. Jersey , too. He’s been dealing with a sore wrist for much of the last two weeks and left Milwaukee’s game Sunday after aggravating the injury during a third-inning at-bat against St. Louis.
“I think Travis is going to be OK,” Counsell said. “We’re hoping to avoid a DL stint. The tricky part is if we can get past it. If we don’t think we’re going to get past it, we’ll have to talk about the disabled list with him as well.
“He’s much better than he was yesterday and Sunday. So, I think we’re going in the right direction. There’s nothing structural in there. It’s a wrist strain. Hopefully, he’ll be all right.”
Brent Suter (8-4, 4.15 ERA) will start for Milwaukee, looking for his fourth consecutive victory. The left-hander has been superb during his winning streak, posting a 2.84 ERA while holding batters to a .185 average and a .551 OPS.
Suter’s been no slouch at the plate, himself this season. He is 5-for-14 over his last nine starts with a home run, three walks and three RBIs.
“I love hitting,” Suter said. I’ve loved it my whole life. Even when I’m struggling, I still like going up there and trying to whack it. It’s one of my favorite parts besides pitching in the game.”
He’s had more opportunity to step into the box lately because he’s been working significantly deeper into games. Suter worked through the seventh in each of his last two starts.
“It’s something I trained for in the offseason so to see it be able to come to fruition the last couple starts feels good,” Suter said.
Suter has never faced the Royals.
Left-hander Danny Duffy will start for Kansas City. He held the Astros scoreless on two hits over six innings in his last outing but took no-decision as the Royals rallied late for a 1-0 victory.
It was a rare bright spot in what’s been a painful month for the Royals, who are 4-19 since June 1 and have lost 12 of their last 14 games — six by four or more runs.
“We’re all frustrated,” Yost said. “I’ve never seen anything like it. I’ve never been a part of a month like this. An offensive drought like we’ve had all month long is pretty puzzling. There’s no answer for it.”