04/14/10 8:26 PM ET
Robinson celebration highlights series finale
By Jesse Sanchez / MLB.com
Before the Dodgers and D-backs square off in the series finale, the Dodgers will honor Jackie Robinson's legacy as part of the annual Jackie Robinson Day across both leagues. Robinson broke the color barrier when took the field for the Brooklyn Dodgers for the first time on April 15, 1947.
"The thing that I like about [the celebration] is that it's something they stress every year since they started doing it," Dodgers outfielder Garret Anderson said. "It wasn't that long ago but it's still a couple generations back. So maybe one kid asks his dad, 'Who was that guy?'"
As part of the celebration, the entire Dodgers team, like all of baseball, will wear No. 42. Also, special advisor to the chairman Don Newcombe will throw out the ceremonial first pitch to outfielder Matt Kemp. Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Tommy Davis, "Sweet" Lou Johnson and Tommy Lasorda are all expected to participate in the on-field ceremony.
Additionally, the Dodgers will honor this year's Jackie Robinson Team 42 Scholars. The national anthem will be sung by R&B singer and songwriter Jeffrey Osbourne.
The main celebration for Jackie Robinson Day this year is at Yankee Stadium.
"[Robinson] had to live through it all, even people on his own team," Dodgers first baseman James Loney said. "That's probably really tough, people on his own team."
Following the pregame festivities, Hiroki Kuroda will take the mound for the home team against Arizona ace Dan Haren. The teams split the first two games of the series.
In his last start, Kuroda allowed one unearned run over eight innings to a Florida Marlins lineup that scored six and seven runs the next two games against other Dodgers pitchers. The right-hander struck out seven and walked only one.
Kuroda is 1-3 with a 3.90 ERA in six lifetime starts against the D-backs and 8-6 with a 3.81 ERA in 23 starts at Dodger Stadium.
As for Haren, he allowed six runs (five earned) on nine hits over 6 2/3 frames against Pittsburgh in his first loss of the season. He did strike out nine batters in the defeat. Haren went 0-1 with a 2.22 ERA in four starts against the Dodgers last season.
"It was one of those without my best stuff," the right-handed pitcher said after his last start. "I wasn't able to put up as many zeros as I usually can."
D-backs at the plate
D-backs center fielder Chris Young is off to a fine start. He went 2-for-4, including the game-winning hit in Wednesday's 9-7 victory against the Dodgers in extra innings, and is hitting .344 for the season. He has five hits in his last six at-bats with runners in scoring position and has 13 RBIs for the season. ... The D-backs have showed more patience at the plate recently. After seeing an average of 3.83 pitches per plate appearance last year, they now rank among the leaders in the National League at 4.10 pitchers per plate appearance. ... Adam LaRoche has hit safely in five consecutive games since snapping an 0-for-13 slump start to the year. ... John Hester will likely get his first start behind the plate Thursday. ... Wednesday's game last four hours and 57 minutes.
Dodgers: Kemp uses entire field
Kemp homered to the opposite field for a second straight game when he hit a two-run homer in the fourth inning off D-backs starter Rodrigo Lopez to give the Dodgers a 5-2 lead Wednesday. Kemp has had two hits in six of eight games this season. He's gone hitless just once this season.
Thursday could provide an interesting challenge for Haren.
Manny Ramirez is 15-for-26 with three home runs, four doubles and four walks against the Arizona right-hander. Kemp is 6-for-19 with two home runs, and Andre Ethier is 10-for-27 with two home runs.
"With pitchers like that, good pitchers like that, you just try to square the ball up," Kemp said. "He's a great pitcher, he's one of the best pitchers in the National League. He doesn't make too many mistakes and when he does, you got to capitalize on it. ... Sometimes you can't even hit the mistakes."
This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.