Major League Baseball

Maeda returns as Dodgers look to sweep Pirates

mlb5DODGERS (34-18) AT PIRATES (25-24)
1:35 p.m. ET; ATTSN-PT, SNLA, MLB.TV

The visiting Los Angeles Dodgers will go for a weekend sweep of the Pittsburgh Pirates on Sunday after winning the first two games by a combined score of 17-4.

The Dodgers also will be wrapping up an eight-game road trip. They are 5-2.

Pittsburgh, which has lost four of five overall, has struggled to mute the Los Angeles offense. The Dodgers have won 16 of 18 games between the two over the past three seasons, outscoring the Pirates 126-58 over that span.

Dodgers third baseman Justin Turner had Saturday’s game and most of Friday’s game off, but manager Dave Roberts said it was a matter of rest and that Turner is expected to play Sunday.

Pittsburgh, which has already had 21 players on the injured list, saw catcher Francisco Cervelli leave Saturday’s game because of concussion-like symptoms shortly after he got hit in the mask with a broken bat.

In the series finale, Los Angeles right-hander Kenta Maeda (5-2, 3.51 ERA) is scheduled to face Pittsburgh righty Chris Archer (1-4, 5.55 ERA).

Maeda is expected to come off the 10-day IL, where he landed May 17 because of a left adductor contusion.

Roberts had predicted and hoped Maeda would indeed spend the minimum amount of time on the IL, and it’s easy to see why.

He’s part of a dominating Dodgers rotation, and his most recent start is a good illustration. The injury came when Maeda fouled a ball off his leg, but even then it wasn’t considered serious, and it was overshadowed by his performance.

In that game, a 2-0 win over San Diego May 15, Maeda not only struck out 12 and walked none, but also drove in both runs with a bloop single. He became the first pitcher in the major leagues ever to have at least a dozen strikeouts and at least two RBIs to account for all of his team’s runs — since RBIs became an official statistic in 1920, anyway.

“It’s hard to imagine him being any better,” Roberts said.

Well, Maeda would have liked to try. He wasn’t thrilled with being pulled after 6 2/3 innings — even though that matched his season high.

“Even though I believe it is the starter’s duty to start an inning and end an inning, overall we were able to get the W, so I believe it was the right move,” he said.

In two career starts against Pittsburgh, Maeda is 1-1 with a 4.05 ERA.

Archer, meanwhile, arrived via trade during the 2018 season to a great reception, but he hasn’t been as effective as hoped. Pittsburgh has lost six of his seven starts this season.

He has lost four straight starts, including two since spending time on the IL because of a thumb injury, and is coming off a 5-0 loss against Colorado on Tuesday when he gave up four runs, three of them earned, and six hits in five innings, with three strikeouts and two walks.

The Pirates couldn’t supply Archer with offensive support that night, but Archer was able to glean improvement in his pitching.

“I felt way better,” he said. “If I could have made a couple pitches, some key pitches, the outlook of the game might have been a little different.

“Looking at the bright side, it’s a step in the right direction.”

Pittsburgh manager Clint Hurdle backed up that outlook.

“There were some good things going on,” Hurdle said. “There were a couple glitches that cost him. There were some other sequences that were sharp, and some things that were getting better.”

Archer is 0-2 with a 5.73 ERA in two career starts against the Dodgers.

–Field Level Media

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