After splitting their first six games in interleague play—at home against the Kansas City Royals and Chicago White Sox—the Dodgers have won five in a row. They swept a three-game set at Detroit and have taken the first two games of this series.
Strong pitching continues to be the key to success for Los Angeles, which has won 19 of 27 to get within three games of first-place San Francisco in the NL West.
The Dodgers have given up a total of just nine runs in going 5-0 on this road trip despite two of the games going extra innings. They’ve surrendered no more than three runs in 14 consecutive games.
Hideo Nomo has been a big part of that outstanding pitching, though he often has not been supported by the Los Angeles offense. Nomo takes the mound Sunday seeking his first win since May 24, having gone 0-2 in his last three outings despite allowing just seven runs in 22 innings.
He’s received only seven runs of support in those starts, and the Dodgers have averaged just 2.8 runs in Nomo’s last eight outings.
The finale of this series could be particularly intense after Saturday’s frenzied contest, won 5-2 by Los Angeles.
The Dodgers’ Paul Lo Duca and the Indians’ Milton Bradley were involved in plenty of trash talking and gesturing. Problems started in the fourth inning as Lo Duca and some teammates were irritated when Bradley homered and quickly peeled back the straps on his batting gloves on his way to first, though it’s something Bradley often does.
“I guess he feels bad that my numbers are better than his and I spent two weeks on the DL,” Bradley said. “I knew he had a problem with the way I was playing. But that’s what I do.”
“He’s going to get killed,” Lo Duca said he told Gerut. “If he does that with a veteran guy a la (Kevin) Brown out there, he’s going to get killed. That’s all I was saying.”
The Indians could use a spark, having dropped three in a row and eight of 11.
STANDINGS: Dodgers - 2nd place, 3 GB, NL West. Indians - 4th place, 12 GB, AL Central.
DODGERS PROBABLE STARTER: Nomo (6-6, 2.74 ERA). Nomo has allowed three earned runs or fewer in 11 of 14 starts this year, pitching at least seven innings in all but one. He’s been particularly good on the road, going 4-2 with a 1.69 ERA. Nomo, among the top five in the NL in ERA and innings pitched (102), is 1-3 with an 8.56 ERA against Cleveland.
INDIANS PROBABLE STARTER: Billy Traber (2-3, 4.75 ERA). The rookie left-hander has started in his last two appearances and has been awful in three starts this season, going 0-2 with a 6.92 ERA. Traber was ripped for five runs and 11 hits over 4 2-3 innings in Tuesday’s 8-5 win over San Diego. Traber, who grew up and still lives in southern California, is facing the Dodgers for the first time.
OFFENSIVE LEADERS: Dodgers - Lo Duca, .326 avg.; McGriff, 10 HRs and 35 RBIs; Shawn Green, 31 runs; Dave Roberts, 21 SBs. Indians - Bradley, .330 avg.; Gerut and Matt Lawton, 7 HRs; Lawton, 30 RBIs; Omar Vizquel, 40 runs and 8 SBs.
INTERLEAGUE RECORDS: Dodgers - 8-3; Indians - 3-8.
STREAKS AND NOTES: Dodgers - RF Green hit 91 homers over the previous two seasons, but has just seven this season and only one in his last 19 games. … CF Roberts is 7-for-39 (.179) since coming off the disabled list on June 1. … C Lo Duca has hit safely in 22 straight games, the longest streak by a Dodger since Brett Butler’s 23-game run in 1991. Indians - CF Bradley has reached base in 33 consecutive games. … LF Lawton is in an 0-for-16 drought. … LHP Terry Mulholland has been tagged for eight runs and 14 hits in 10 innings over his last four appearances.
ROAD/HOME RECORDS: Dodgers - 19-14 on the road; Indians - 16-17 at home.
INJURIES: Dodgers - C Todd Hundley (back), 15-day DL; OF Daryle Ward (wrist), 15-day DL; LHP Troy Brohawn (shoulder), 15-day DL; RHP Darren Dreifort (knee), 15-day DL; LHP Derek Thompson (elbow), 60-day DL. Indians - SS Vizquel (knee), 15-day DL; OF Ellis Burks (elbow), 15-day DL; OF Karim Garcia (wrist), 15-day DL; RHP Ricardo Rodriguez (triceps), 15-day DL; RHP Jason Bere (shoulder), 60-day DL; RHP Dave Elder (shoulder), 60-day DL; RHP Bob Wickman (elbow), 60-day DL; RHP Mark Wohlers (elbow), 60-day DL; INF Ricky Gutierrez (neck), 60-day DL.