With the best record in the majors, the Los Angeles Dodgers have established themselves as a World Series contender.
If they truly want to be considered a favorite to win the championship, they need to prove they can beat AL opponents.
The Dodgers look to shake their recent woes against the AL when they open a key stretch of interleague games Friday night with a three-game series against the AL West-leading Texas Rangers.
The defending division champs are trying to make consecutive trips to the playoffs for the first time since 1995 and ’96 and are seeking their first World Series title since 1988.
A championship takes victories over the AL - something that has eluded the Dodgers lately.
Los Angeles, which lost to San Diego 3-1 on Wednesday, dropped two of three to the Angels from May 22-24 and is 6-12 in interleague play since the start of last season.
Andre Ethier(notes) has been carrying the Dodgers lately, batting .400 (14 for 35) with five home runs and eight RBIs during a season-high nine-game hitting streak, but he’s batting .129 (4 for 31) with a homer and four RBIs in his last 12 games versus the AL.
As bad as Los Angeles has played in interleague games, it’s been even worse in AL parks.
The Dodgers had one victory in six road interleague games last season and are 5-28 in AL parks since 2005. Los Angeles plays nine of its next 12 on the road against AL opponents.
Texas (34-25) is 12-6 at home in interleague play since 2007. The Rangers, who have a 4 1/2-game division lead, have lost five of their last six against the Dodgers at Rangers Ballpark but haven’t played them there since 2000.
Texas defeated Toronto 1-0 on Thursday to avoid being swept in a rain-shortened three-game series.
“We needed to get a win, and it doesn’t matter how you get it,” manager Ron Washington said. “We are going to get it together offensively. Everybody can go in a little rut. But our heads are high. We just won a 1-0 game in Arlington.”
Since spending two months on the disabled list with an oblique strain, Kuroda has given up two runs and five hits over 11 innings in two starts. On Saturday, the right-hander allowed two hits and struck out five in six shutout innings of a 3-2, 12-inning win over Philadelphia.
This will be Kuroda’s first start away from Dodger Stadium since yielding one run and four hits in 5 2-3 innings of a 4-1 win against San Diego on opening day.
The Rangers counter with Vicente Padilla(notes) (4-3, 5.22), who allowed three runs and four hits in seven innings of Sunday’s 6-3 win at Boston after being tagged for seven runs in 3 2-3 innings in a 12-3 loss to the New York Yankees on June 2. The right-hander has given up three runs or less in five of his last six starts.
Padilla is 2-1 with a 3.54 ERA in four career starts versus the Dodgers but hasn’t faced them since 2004, when he pitched for Philadelphia.