The hot-hitting second baseman looks to lead the Angels to a fifth consecutive win over the slumping Los Angeles Dodgers in the middle game of this series Wednesday night in Anaheim.
Kendrick is hitting .419 with three homers, five doubles and 10 RBIs during a 7-3 stretch for the Angels (40-33). He has lifted his season average from .255 to .280 with that surge, which has been spurred by his success versus the Dodgers (38-32).
Kendrick has a .404 average with one homer and eight RBIs in 12 meetings with the crosstown rivals. He’s 10 for 18 with one homer and five RBIs in four matchups this season, including a three-game sweep at Dodger Stadium earlier this month.
Kendrick came up big versus the Dodgers again Tuesday, as his third hit drove in the go-ahead run in the seventh, helping the Angels win 6-3 and clinch this season’s Freeway Series with two games remaining.
Kendrick has batted leadoff in each of the last five games with Erick Aybar(notes) (knee) sidelined, and his play is also softening the blow caused by the absences of Maicer Izturis(notes) (forearm) and Kendry Morales(notes) (broken leg).
“Howie did a nice job, even if he’s not really a prototypical leadoff guy who’s going to sit up there and work counts,” manager Mike Scioscia said of Kendrick, who has 10 walks in 71 games.
Tuesday’s victory opened what could be a key 12-game homestand for the Angels, who are hoping to trim the 3 1/2-game gap on division-leading Texas, the hottest team in baseball with nine wins in a row.
Sending Joel Pineiro(notes) (6-6, 4.45 ERA) to the mound could help. The right-hander is 3-0 with a 2.67 ERA in four career starts against the Dodgers after throwing a five-hitter with seven strikeouts in a 10-1 victory June 11.
He carried that success into his next outing last Wednesday, yielding one run and three hits in eight innings of a 5-1 win over Milwaukee.
“My go-to pitch is that sinker,” Pineiro told the team’s official website. “Going as long as I can, as hard as I can, that’s my main goal.”
Pineiro has posted a 2.35 ERA while winning three consecutive starts.
The Dodgers have dropped a season high-tying five in a row and are trying to avoid their longest losing streak since an eight-game slide from Aug. 22-29, 2008.
The rookie right-hander is 0-3 with a 4.97 ERA in five games since a May 22 win against Detroit. That stretch includes a 4-2 loss to the Angels on June 12, when Ely allowed four runs in five innings.
“He’s a youngster,” manager Joe Torre said following Ely’s shortest outing of the season. “It’s unfair to expect things. We have to see how emotionally he’s going to be able to handle bouncing back.”