An unreliable bullpen has had a lot to do with the Los Angeles Dodgers’ early struggles.
Kuroda looks to build on a strong start, and help the Dodgers bounce back from another disappointing loss when they continue a three-game series against the Cincinnati Reds on Wednesday night.
After winning the NL West each of the past two seasons, Los Angeles (6-7) is off to its worst start since opening 5-9 in 2003. Dodger relievers led the majors with a 3.12 ERA in 2009, but have recorded a 6.07 ERA this season—the bullpen allowed four runs in five innings in Tuesday’s 11-9 defeat
Although a poor performance from starter Chad Billingsley(notes) put the Dodgers in an early 7-3 hole, the Dodgers charged back to tie the score at nine on Matt Kemp’s(notes) three-run homer in the top of the eighth. Kemp has homered six times during a nine-game hitting streak, and has gone deep four times in five games at Great American Ball Park.
The comeback bid came to an end, though, when pinch-hitter Paul Janish(notes) singled home the tiebreaking run in the bottom of the eighth off reliever Ramon Troncoso(notes), snapping a five-game skid for the Reds (6-8).
“We’re going to score runs,” Los Angeles manager Joe Torre said. “We just need to limit the opposition.”
Kuroda (1-0, 1.20 ERA) hopes to be up to that task.
After struggling through an injury-plagued 2009, Kuroda looks like he has what it takes to carry the Dodgers’ rotation this season. He allowed an unearned run and five hits in eight innings of a 7-3 win over Florida in his season debut, and gave up three runs in seven innings of Thursday’s 6-5, 10-inning win over Arizona.
The right-hander struck out seven in each of those outings, and the only walk he has issued was intentional.
In his only career start against the Reds on May 21, 2008, Kuroda yielded two runs and five hits in eight innings of a 5-2 win.
Cincinnati’s opening-day starter has been knocked around for 19 hits - including five homers - and 15 runs in 16 innings over three starts, and is coming off his worst performance of 2010. Harang, who has just one victory in 22 starts since May 30, was tagged for eight runs and 10 hits in four-plus innings in Thursday’s 10-2 loss to Florida.
The right-hander is 1-4 with a 5.23 ERA in his last five starts against Los Angeles, allowing at least four runs in four of those outings.
Although if Cincinnati’s offense can score like it did Tuesday, that could make things much easier for the right-hander.
The Reds totaled 15 runs during their skid before scoring a season high against the Dodgers. Joey Votto(notes), who had three RBIs in his first 13 games combined, homered and drove in three as Cincinnati defeated Los Angeles for just eighth time in 34 meetings since 2005.