With a West Coast trip taking some steam out of one of the hottest teams in baseball, the Rays have this to look forward to as they wrap up that trip Sunday night at Dodger Stadium: Clayton Kershaw.
Entering as the Majors' leader with a 1.91 ERA, the Dodgers' left-handed ace will meet right-hander Jeremy Hellickson in the finale of a three-game set between postseason hopefuls, with the Dodgers seeking a series sweep that would continue their own stunning summer surge.
Kershaw has been at the center of the Dodgers' run to the top of the National League West, winning five of his last seven decisions, earning NL Pitcher of the Month honors for July and making a good case for August already.
"Every time he goes out there, we feel like he's going to go deep into the game," Dodgers manager Don Mattingly said of Kershaw, the NL Cy Young Award winner in 2011 and runner-up in 2012. "That's a good feeling. He's really kind of spoiled us."
Kershaw, second in the Majors with 174 1/3 innings pitched, took the loss Tuesday in St. Louis, allowing two runs on six hits in six innings in a 5-1 defeat. He is 5-3 with a 2.79 ERA in 16 career Interleague starts.
The Rays are now 0-4 on their trip that took them through Arizona for two games before the club's first-ever visit to Los Angeles this weekend, and Hellickson is hoping he has the right stuff to turn it around after taking the loss in the first game of the trip.
In back-to-back losses to the D-backs, the first coming at home, Hellickson has allowed nine earned runs on 12 hits in nine innings.
"The mindset's always to get ahead and attack and be aggressive. I really haven't shown that mindset the last few games," Hellickson said. "I do have to get back to that and being more aggressive. ... I just wasn't very good the last two games. That's basically what it comes down to."
Rays: Myers' streak ends
Prior to going 0-for-4 on Saturday, rookie sensation Wil Myers had reached base safely in 22 consecutive games. Of course, one oh-fer takes no luster off what has been a spectacular start to his career.
Myers, who has reached safely in 38 of his first 43 career games, has 55 hits, eight home runs and 30 RBIs, a start that remains among the best in history for a rookie.
Myers, who started in center field and batted cleanup again Saturday, is only the second player in Rays history to do that within his first 50 career games, joining Rocco Baldelli, who did it in 2003. His 22-game streak ranks second only behind's Baldelli's 24 in Rays rookie annals and is the third-longest by a rookie this season.
Dodgers: Sunday test for Ramirez
Battling a sore right shoulder, Hanley Ramirez will do some fielding work before Sunday's game, and the Dodgers will gauge his progress after that session. Ramirez, who injured the shoulder last Sunday, pinch-hit Friday but has yet to take grounders, feeling some discomfort playing catch Friday.
"We'll be careful with him," Mattingly said. "I wouldn't have used him if I thought this was a DL situation. I don't think it is."
• The Dodgers are now unbeaten in their last 15 series (11-0-4) since dropping two of three in Pittsburgh on June 14-16. The Rays had won or tied their last 11 series before the two-game sweep at Arizona and this weekend's series loss.
• The Dodgers and Rays remain two of the hottest teams in baseball. The Dodgers are 36-8 since June 22, best record in the Majors over that span, while the Rays have a 28-13 record in that same time.
• The Dodgers are now 10-6 in Interleague Play. The Rays are 12-7.
John Schlegel is a national reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.