Kershaw anticipates tough D-backs squad

Photo by Jordan Megenhardt

By Greg Dillard

The All-Star break has come and gone, which means the second half of the 2011 regular season is set to get underway on Friday.

After a strong first-half performance, the D-backs will resume play at 49-43 and just three games behind the first-place Giants. The team posted a winning record in both May and June to climb toward the top of the National League West.

Additionally, the D-backs are 18-12 in one-run games this season and 23-19 at Chase Field.

Arizona will start the second half by hosting the Dodgers in a crucial three-game series. It was a challenging first half for Los Angeles, who sputtered to a 41-51 mark and occupies fourth place in the division standings.

However, the pitching of All-Star left-hander Clayton Kershaw has been a bright spot this season. The southpaw is slated to take the mound in Friday’s series opener against Arizona’s Joe Saunders, who is 6-3 in his last nine starts. He most recently hurled five shutout innings over the Cardinals.

Heading into his start, Kershaw is well aware of the offensive threats in the D-backs’ lineup. All-Star Justin Upton owns a .293 average with 15 homers, and Stephen Drew is hitting .259 with 45 RBI. The D-backs have crushed 102 homers as a team, as well as stolen 69 bases.

“They’ve got some good guys in the lineup,” Kershaw said. “They’ve got speed. They can go deep. They’ve got a lot of stuff. You’ve just got to obviously pitch to your strengths, but at the same time, every hitter has a hole or two. So you just try and find and exploit that.”

In 19 starts this season, the Dodgers’ ace is 9-4 with a 3.03 ERA. Through 130 2/3 innings pitched, he’s fanned an impressive 147 batters. The lefty last faced the D-backs on May 13 and tossed seven innings to earn the win.

With the series opener set to kick off on Friday, Kershaw anticipates a tough matchup against the division rival D-backs.

“The Diamondbacks are playing really well,” Kershaw said. “They have got some guys swinging the bat really well. Then they’ve got some young guys pitching, throwing the ball really well.”

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s