An inconsistent offense that ranks in baseball’s bottom tier this season has held back the Los Angeles Dodgers, who are still under .500 despite sharing first place in the NL West.
But in the first inning - and in the Rocky Mountains - Los Angeles’ bats have been more than OK.
One night after their biggest offensive effort of the season, the Dodgers will again look to launch an early onslaught on Tuesday, when they continue their series against the Colorado Rockies.
The Dodgers (49-50) rank 24th in baseball this year with 422 total runs, but their offense has been baseball’s best in the first inning, scoring a major league-high 82 runs. Colorado has allowed 97 first-inning runs in 2008, while no other major league team has given up more than 80.
Los Angeles scored eight in the first of Monday’s 16-10 win in Denver. The Dodgers also tallied 10 runs in the first inning of an 11-3 home win over the Rockies on April 26.
In those two innings, Los Angeles’ Matt Kemp has two doubles, a grand slam and six RBIs.
“I don’t know why that is,” Kemp said. “Hopefully, I’ll repeat it (Tuesday).”
It’s possible, considering that the Dodgers have scored 41 runs in four games this season at Coors Field. They scored all of their season-high 16 runs in the first five innings Monday, doing it without hitting a home run.
“Arena baseball,” manager Joe Torre said. “When you get eight runs, it’s a nice lead. But in this ballpark, you are certainly not safe. We couldn’t shut them down.”
The Dodgers, who are tied with Arizona atop the West, have scored 41 runs while winning four of their last five overall, and with a victory Tuesday they can reach the .500 mark for the first time since they were 27-27 on May 30.
To do it, they’ll look to rookie Clayton Kershaw, who is still seeking his first major league victory. The 20-year-old left-hander was recalled from Double-A Jacksonville Tuesday to begin his second stint with Los Angeles after going 2-0 with a 1.00 ERA in three minor league starts this month.
Kershaw (0-2, 4.42 ERA) made eight starts for the Dodgers before he was sent down. One of his losses came against Colorado on June 4, when he gave up two runs in five innings of a 2-1 defeat at Dodger Stadium.
Still, Colorado is 3-7 against Los Angeles this year after beating the Dodgers seven straight times to close 2007.
The Rockies (43-58) had won four straight overall before Monday, sweeping the Pittsburgh Pirates in a four-game set to start the season’s second half.
Despite allowing at least 15 runs for the fourth time this season, there was a positive sign, as shortstop Troy Tulowitzki went 5-for-5 in his first game since being activated from the disabled list. Tulowitzki had been out since July 4, when he injured his hand while breaking his bat out of anger.
Ubaldo Jimenez (5-9, 4.20) will try to slow down the Dodgers. The right-hander has won both career decisions against Los Angeles, but has a 7.71 ERA in four starts versus them. He allowed six runs in 2 1-3 innings at Dodger Stadium on April 25 in a game the Rockies lost 8-7 in 13 innings.
Jimenez has won three of his last four starts, however, with a 2.39 ERA over that span. He gave up three runs in seven innings of a 5-3 win against Pittsburgh on Thursday, moving to 4-2 with a 2.80 ERA in 10 starts at Coors Field this year.