Opponent: Los Angeles Dodgers
Record: 33-26, .559, 3 GB (NL West)
Place: Dodgers Stadium
Time & TV: Game 1: 9:10 p.m. (FSN); Game 2: 9:10 p.m. (WGN); Game 3: (3:10) p.m. (FSN)
2002 Record vs Sox: 0-0
2003 Record vs Sox: 0-0
Like the Sox, the Dodgers offensively have been non-existent, batting just .252 as a team and scoring just 204 runs (15 fewer than the Sox and 159 fewer than the leading Toronto Blue Jays). However, LA, unlike the Sox, is seven games over .500 and just three games behind the Giants. That is largely in part to a major league-leading 2.98 ERA, along with a formidible bullpen trio of Eric Gagne (20 SVs, 2.10 ERA), Paul Quantrill and Guillermo Mota.
WHO'S HOT (Last 14 Games)
Paul Lo Duca, C: .480 (27-56), 7 RBI, 9 R, 4 2B, 2 HR
--Why 14 games? That is currently his hitting streak, which has brought his batting average up .038 points.
WHO'S NOT (Last 4 Games)
Shawn Green: 2-14, 4 K's
--This is actually a good thing for the Dodgers as it is so few amount of games. Plus, he had a 10-game hitting streak before this mini-slump.
Mark Buehrle (2-8, 4.73) vs Kazuhisa Ishii (4-2, 3.21)
--There is really only way to beat Ishii, hit him early and force the action. He's very much a rythm pitcher who can be lights out if given the chance. Knowing the Sox struggling offense and its inability to take advantage when men are on base, they need the early hits now more than ever. Buehrle has never faced the Dodgers, but considering their lack of offense and Dodgers Stadium being a "pitchers" park, the only thing that may stop Buehrle is his teammates.
Bartolo Colon (5-5, 3.96) vs Andy Ashby (0-3, 6.59)
--If there is one pitcher on the Dodgers staff you want to face it is Ashby, who is making a spot start in place of the injured Darren Dreifort. With that, he may be what a Sox offense needs to get going. Colon faced the Dodgers last season while with the Expos and allowed three runs (two earned) in seven innings.
Esteban Loaiza (8-2, 1.90) vs Odalis Perez (4-3, 4.29)
--With the pitching style of Perez, Loaiza shouldn't expect a different Sox offense in this game. Loaiza, like Colon, gave up two earned runs in seven innings against the Dodgers while pitching for the Blue Jays.
KEY TO THE SERIES
Duplicate Thursday's play, which consisted of a strong bullpen and timely hitting late. With their three best pitchers going up against a weak-hitting Dodgers offense, the Sox will have chances to grab leads. Whether they actually take advantage and secure it is another story.