When the second half starts next week, the Los Angeles Dodgers hope their two best offensive players are ready to make an impact.
Left-hander Chris Capuano has been doing that all season for Los Angeles.
Capuano gets his second crack at win No. 10 on Sunday when the NL West-leading Dodgers finish their series against the Arizona Diamondbacks at Chase Field.
Center fielder Matt Kemp has been sidelined since late May with a strained left hamstring and right fielder Andre Ethier was placed on the disabled list Wednesday - retroactive to June 28 - with a strained left oblique, but both are working their way back to the Dodgers’ lineup.
Kemp, who is supposed to participate in Monday’s home run derby in Kansas City prior to Tuesday’s All-Star game, is playing at Triple-A Albuquerque this weekend and might be in the lineup Friday against San Diego.
Ethier is scheduled to play at Single-A Rancho Cucamonga on Wednesday and Thursday.
Their return could provide a major lift to an injury-riddled team that’s averaging 2.2 runs while losing 14 of 19.
Los Angeles (47-39) won for the fourth time in five games with Thursday’s 4-1 series-opening victory, but has lost the last two by 5-3 margins after leading 2-0 in each game.
Needing a win or a San Francisco loss to Pittsburgh on Sunday to head into the break atop the West, the Dodgers are looking for another strong performance from Capuano (9-3, 2.62 ERA), who has plenty of motivation in this start.
Despite ranking among the NL’s best in ERA, the left-hander will not represent the Dodgers in the Midsummer Classic.
“(NL manager) Tony (La Russa) had a tough decision and there’s no one I would take off his staff and say I should be there instead of him,” Capuano told the Dodgers’ official website after throwing six innings of one-run ball in Tuesday’s 3-1 victory over Cincinnati. “I don’t feel I was wronged at all.”
Capuano has faced the Diamondbacks once this season, a 6-1 road win May 21 when he struck out five and allowed one run in six innings.
The Dodgers will get their first look at rookie Trevor Bauer (0-1, 9.82).
The 21-year-old right-hander made a meteoric rise through the minors after being the third overall pick in the 2011 amateur draft, but he’s had a rocky start to his big league career, walking seven and giving up eight earned runs in 7 1-3 innings.
In his home debut, Bauer was booed off the mound Tuesday after yielding seven runs in 3 1-3 innings of a 9-5 loss to San Diego.
“There has been a lot built up about him,” manager Kirk Gibson said of the former UCLA star. “It hasn’t went well for him. It is part of being in the big leagues. We wish things were different.”
If they aren’t Sunday, the Diamondbacks’ bullpen is well-rested following Trevor Cahill’s strong effort Saturday.
“It was big for him to get through seven innings for us,” Gibson said. “Just bullpen-wise, we don’t want to use everybody. Seven innings just makes (Sunday’s) game much better as well.”
The Diamondbacks (41-43) are going for their first three-game winning streak since a four-game run June 20-24.
The Dodgers have lost 10 of 12 on the road.