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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 Riley Sutter 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 http://www.cowboysauthorizedshops.com/au...ams-jersey , 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, 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.
ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. — Tropicana Field has not been kind to J.A. Happ.
Five years ago, Happ took a line drive directly to his head DaeSean Hamilton Color Rush Jersey , hitting him behind his left ear and fracturing his skull. He fell to the ground hard enough that he strained ligaments in his knee, and it would be three months before he returned to the mound.
Happ will start for Toronto in Thursday’s series finale, and while he’s been back to the Trop nine times since his injury there, he’s won only once, in that same 2013 season, in just his third game back from injury.
Happ is off to a solid 8-3 start with a 3.71 ERA, and he’s 4-0 in his last five starts, taking a full run off his season ERA along the way. One of his three losses this season came against the Rays, giving up three runs on four hits in 5 2/3 innings in a May 4 loss where he walked more batters (four) than he struck out (three). On Friday against Baltimore, he was especially sharp Rashaan Gaulden Color Rush Jersey , throwing seven innings and allowing only two hits and a single unearned run.
And while he’s struggled at Tropicana Field, his overall career numbers against the Rays are better, with a 3-4 record and 5.05 ERA — he has just one win in 10 appearances against Tampa Bay over the last four seasons.
Tampa Bay, trying to push through a rash of injuries to its starting pitching, continues to experiment regularly with “openers,” using relievers as part of bullpen days to start about half their games in recent weeks. Nowhere is the Rays’ desperation more glaring than with Thursday’s starter, Wilmer Font, who is already playing for his third team this season.
Font pitched six games with the Dodgers, then four with the Athletics, and he’s now made five appearances with the Rays. He’s 0-3 on the season with a 9.59 ERA Vinny Curry Color Rush Jersey , but in his five games with Tampa Bay, he’s fared much better, with a 3.24 ERA and 0-1 record. In those five games, he’s thrown 8 1/3 innings, allowing three earned runs on five hits. In his last outing, also a makeshift start, he lasted into the third inning Friday against Seattle, but gave up two runs on two hits, getting five of his seven outs via strikeout.
Font has actually faced Toronto already this season while with Oakland — staked with the ninth inning and a 9-0 lead, he gave up a two-run home run to Yangervis Solarte.
The two American League East rivals went into Wednesday’s game within a half-game of each other in the standings Authentic Evan Bouchard Jersey , still well ahead of last-place Baltimore.
Toronto gets Thursday off before beginning an interleague stretch at home, with three games against the Nationals, then two against the Braves. The Rays, meanwhile, go on the road for the next week, with four games at the Yankees and three at the Astros, then returning home with seven of their next nine again against the Yankees and Astros.
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