HEADLINE

Atmosphere could be tense as Astros, Dodgers meet again

Field Level Media

September 11, 2020 at 8:01 pm.

After a rare Friday off day for both teams, the Los Angeles Dodgers will get set to play host to the Houston Astros for a brief two-game series starting Saturday in the first meeting between the teams since an emotionally-charged matchup on July 29.

The Dodgers are not only returning home for the brief set, they do so with some starting pitching concerns. Walker Buehler went on the 10-day injured list because of recurring blister issues and fellow right-hander Dustin May left Thursday’s outing with a left foot contusion after he was hit by a line drive.

Initial X-rays on the injury were said to be inconclusive and May was scheduled for a CT scan Friday.

Considering that the Dodgers also shipped right-hander Ross Stripling to the Toronto Blue Jays at the Aug. 31 trade deadline, they are suddenly short some arms with the stretch drive to the regular season having already arrived.

The Astros (22-23) will limp in to the series as well, mostly because of their eight defeats in their last nine games. Houston just lost four of five games at Oakland, dropping Thursday’s contest 3-1 when the offense was held to two hits.

“I don’t think we’re panicking to any extent,” Astros outfielder Josh Reddick told reporters after Thursday’s defeat. “Anything can happen right now. I’ve been a part of some stuff that’s been pretty fun to watch and when this team gets hot, it’s going to be pretty special.”

The last time these teams met, Dodgers right-hander Joe Kelly was suspended for pitches that nearly hit multiple Astros batters before he taunted Carlos Correa while walking off the field after the Astros’ slugger struck out.

Kelly was just reinstated from the injured list because of shoulder inflammation, but he now has to serve his reduced five-game suspension and will not be available for the series. His original suspension was for eight games and while it was lowered on appeal, he still is upset he received any type of discipline.

“I’ll always have a little bit of a grudge against some decisions that were made,” Kelly told reporters this week. “But, like I said, it is what it is, and we’ll have to move on.”

Left-hander Julio Urias (3-0, 3.86 ERA) will start for the Dodgers (32-13) on Saturday. He has never faced the Astros.

The Dodgers are expected to cover Sunday’s game with the bullpen. Clayton Kershaw pitched Wednesday and is not in line to pitch again until Monday. Their other starter, Tony Gonsolin, came on in relief Thursday after May left the game.

Keeping their mind off the bad news was the decision by manager Dave Roberts to let star outfielder Mookie Betts start at second base Thursday at Arizona. Roberts said Betts’ 15th career start at second was a “very clean game,” although the Dodgers lost 5-2 to the D-backs.

The Astros will try to change their recent fortunes with left-hander Framber Valdez (3-3, 3.61) on the mound. Valdez gave up three runs on four hits over 4 1/3 innings to the Dodgers on July 28 and took the loss. It was his only career appearance vs. L.A.