The Los Angeles Dodgers couldn't extend their impressive win streak last time out.
Manager Don Mattingly's club could have a hard time bouncing back against 21-year-old phenom Jose Fernandez, who has been nearly untouchable over the last month.
In a matchup of star rookies, Hyun-Jin Ryu takes the mound opposite Fernandez as the visiting Dodgers open a four-game set against the NL-worst Miami Marlins on Monday night.
Los Angeles (72-51) had won a season-high 10 straight and an incredible 42 of 50 before suffering a 3-2 walkoff loss at Philadelphia on Sunday. Hanley Ramirez committed two costly errors in the ninth inning as the Dodgers dropped to 19-2 in their last 21 road games.
"It's tough to explain," said Ramirez, who spent six-plus seasons with the Marlins before getting traded to Los Angeles last July. "We don't think about negative stuff. We just move on. It's definitely tough, but games like this will happen."
While the Dodgers haven't lost back-to-back games since June 20 and 21, they could be in for a stiff test against Fernandez (8-5, 2.45 ERA), who ranks among the major league leaders in ERA, opponent batting average (.190) and strikeouts per nine innings (9.6). The All-Star right-hander has been especially dominant since mid-July, going 3-0 with a 1.54 ERA in his last six starts.
"He's going out there with the confidence of wanting to be the best pitcher in the league," manager Mike Redmond told MLB's official website. "You know what? He's making a case."
Fernandez threw seven innings of three-hit ball in Tuesday's 1-0, 10-inning victory at Kansas City.
"The kid's good, he's got three well-above average pitches, he commands them all, throws 'em all for strikes, knows what he's doing and has a good game plan up there," Royals' first baseman Eric Hosmer said. "He's a good pitcher, he's going to be sticking around for a long time."
Fernandez earned the win in his only matchup versus Los Angeles, yielding three runs and eight hits in six innings in a 5-4 road victory May 10.
Leading all rookies in wins, Ryu (12-3, 2.91) has also impressed in his first season in the majors. The left-hander is 6-0 in his last nine outings - all Dodgers victories.
The South Korea native surrendered one run and five hits in seven innings to win his fifth consecutive start Tuesday, outdueling New York Mets All-Star Matt Harvey in a 4-2 victory.
"Ryu is the game plan when you got a guy like Harvey out there," Mattingly said. "Hyun-Jin was obviously up to the challenge. I was looking to see how he was going to respond to this little matchup. In the games they've made a big deal of he's responded really well."
Ryu allowed one run in 6 2-3 innings to beat Miami 7-1 on May 11 in his lone matchup in the series.
The Marlins (47-75) suffered back-to-back losses to San Francisco before bouncing back Sunday with a 6-5 win. After going deep in the third inning, Jeff Mathis delivered a tiebreaking double in the eighth that deflected off Giants outfielder Andres Torres.
Los Angeles has hit .320 in taking nine of 13 from the Marlins.
Dodgers reliever Brian Wilson (Tommy John surgery) could be activated from the disabled list as soon as Monday. The three-time All-Star, who made four scoreless appearances during a minor league rehab assignment, hasn't pitched in the majors since April 2012, while with San Francisco.
The Associated Press News Service
The Associated Press
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