LOS ANGELES -- Once unable to win a series no matter what they did, the Los Angeles Dodgers are a game away from taking seven of their last eight series.
And regardless of what happens Wednesday, in the second game of a brief two-game interleague matchup against the Texas Rangers, the Dodgers will make it eight consecutive unbeaten series after taking a 12-5 decision Tuesday. The Dodgers were 6-0-1 in their last seven series before the Rangers came to Los Angeles.
The Dodgers were unable to win any of their first five series of the season. Then after winning back-to-back series in late April, they were unable to take any of their next seven, tying two of those.
The Dodgers were 17-26 on May 17 and their inspired play while reaching the 2017 World Series was a distant memory.
Tuesday's runaway triumph gave the Dodgers 18 victories in their last 24 games and has brought that 2017 feel back to Dodger Stadium.
The Rangers happen to be in a polar opposite run than the one the Dodgers are on. In getting blasted Tuesday in L.A., the Rangers have lost five consecutive games, six of their last eight and eight of their last 11.
And while the Dodgers' turnaround began May 19, the Rangers are now 11-18 since May 12.
If there is any solace for the Rangers it is that Cole Hamels will take the mound Wednesday. The left-hander leads all Rangers starters in ERA (3.86), starts (13), innings (79 1/3) and strikeouts (79).
Hamels is just 3-6 but is coming off a start where he reached the eighth inning for the second time this season. Also promising is his 1.89 career ERA against the Dodgers in eight starts and 57 innings. He is 3-2 lifetime against L.A.
The Dodgers are starting to feel good about their starting pitching situation with Kenta Maeda (4-4, 3.61) returning to the rotation Wednesday after missing two weeks with a hip strain. He will face the Rangers for the first time in his career.
Yes, the Dodgers do still have Clayton Kershaw, Rich Hill, Dennis Santana, Hyun-Jin Ryu and now Walker Buehler on the DL, but Maeda's return figures to signal a reversal of fortune.
Kershaw (back strain) could appear in a simulated game soon, while Ryu (groin) remains on schedule to return in July. Hill (blister) also is making progress, but no timetable for his return has been given.
"It's one of those things," manager Dave Roberts said, according to the Los Angeles Times. "If you're a pitcher on this staff ... heads up."
The Rangers would not mind a little despair mixed in with some success, like the Dodgers are showing. But right now, they'll take a two-game split with the Dodgers.
Tuesday's defeat means the Rangers are now 5-17 in series openers and 1-8 in their last nine openers. Texas is also a season-high 15 games under .500 at 27-42. The Rangers are also 7-14 in their last 21 road games.