Los Angeles Dodgers at Arizona Diamondbacks (-110, 9.5)
After being left out of the starting lineup for three straight games to start this week, Dodgers outfielder Matt Kemp wanted to know what was up. He requested a meeting with manager Joe Torre on Tuesday.
"I get the chance to write the lineup every day and I put in who I put in," Torre said after the meeting. "It's been frustrating for him, we all see that, and hopefully these days will give him a chance to breathe a bit. It just looks like he's frustrated."
Kemp must have channeled some of that frustration into offense. After replacing Manny Ramirez, during Tuesday’s game, Kemp collected five hits, three RBIs and a homer over his next eight at-bats.
Another Dodger who seems to be playing with some motivation after going on bereavement leave with the untimely death of his father is Rafael Furcal. L.A.’s shortstop has at least two hits in five straight games and went 4-for-5 with a home run in Wednesday’s win over the Giants.
"He makes us that much more exciting," Torre said of Furcal. "He can do a lot of things and not only with a bat in his hands. He elevates us with the way he plays the game."
The Diamondbacks have dropped seven straight against the Dodgers and failed to score in the last 31 innings of a three-game set while getting swept in L.A. Look for Los Angeles to extend its winning streak Friday.
Chicago White Sox at Texas Rangers (-185, 9.5)
In case you hadn’t noticed, the Rangers are absolutely tearing the ball off the cover. Texas’ offense has averaged 6.7 runs per game over its last 10, scoring no fewer than four runs during the stretch and compiling a 7-3 over/under record.
There really is no break for a pitcher in the Rangers lineup until you get to the bottom of the order, but now that has changed.
With expected catchers Taylor Teagarden and Jarrod Saltalamacchia struggling in the minors, Texas has been forced to use Matt Treanor (.237 23 RBIs) and Max Ramirez (.217 8 RBIs) behind the dish. But that changed when the club acquired Bengie Molina in a trade with the Giants Wednesday night.
Molina was struggling this season in San Francisco but brings a career .275 average to Arlington and the presence of additional power. Big Money blasted a career-high 20 bombs in 2009 and joins his good friend, Vladimir Guerrero, in a lineup that will be among the best in baseball.
Look for some early fireworks in the Lone Star State on Friday as the Rangers welcome their newest backstop.