Preview: Clayton Kershaw And Johnny Cueto Duel In Dodgers-Giants Opener
Kenny Karst-USA TODAY Sports

The Los Angeles Dodgers and San Francisco Giants meet Friday night for the start of a three-game series at AT&T Park. Both clubs enter play out of an off-day, and the Giants lead the Dodgers by four games for first place in the National League West.

Offense may be at a premium in the matchup between Clayton Kershaw and Johnny Cueto. Kershaw enters 6-0 with three complete-game shutouts and a 0.81 ERA in his past seven starts. The left-handed ace has 69 strikeouts to just three walks in 55.2 innings pitched over that span.

Kershaw was named the NL Pitcher of the Month for May, but his first June start wasn’t in line with his previous outing. He did limit the Atlanta Braves to just three hits, though only managed to toss a season-low six innings.

Kershaw said after the start he was thankful for three shutout innings from the Dodgers’ bullpen, but was agitated with himself for putting them in that position. Kershaw is 9-3 in 16 career games (15 starts) at AT&T Park with a 1.23 ERA.

That’s good for the lowest all-time mark among pitchers who have made at least 10 starts in the stadium’s history. Kershaw is 1-0, allowed five runs (four earned) and has 11 strikeouts across 15 innings pitched over two starts against the Giants in 2016.

Just as the Dodgers are 11-1 in games Kershaw has started this season, the Giants are also 11-1 in Cueto’s starts this season. The right-hander threw back-to-back complete games in late May, and has tossed six innings in each of his past two starts while allowing no more than one earned run.

Los Angeles tagged Cueto for five runs in the first inning on April 10, but he settled in and allowed just one more run over the next six innings. Less than one week later at Dodger Stadium, Cueto held the Dodgers to one run on three hits and had seven strikeouts over 7.1 innings, earning a win.

Chase Utley is a lifetime .385 batter against Cueto, which is tied for the highest mark among active players (minimum 20 at-bats). However, Utley is just 1-for-5 with one double and a walk in seven at-bats when facing Cueto this season. Yasmani Grandal is 1-for-2 off the right-hander, while Adrian Gonzalez and Trayce Thompson are both 2-for-6 and have a combined three RBIs.

The Giants have five left-handed batting players in their lineup. Such hitters are batting .135/.158/.176 against Kershaw this season. Among those starting for San Francisco, only Buster Posey and Joe Panik have a hit off Kershaw in 2016 — one each.

Already without Hunter Pence and Angel Pagan, the Giants placed Kelby Tomlinson on the 15-day disabled list prior to Friday’s game. They called up Ramiro Pena from Triple-A Sacramento to take Tomlinson’s place on the roster.

Dodgers lineup:

2B: Chase Utley
SS: Corey Seager
3B: Justin Turner
1B: Adrian Gonzalez
RF: Trayce Thompson
CF: Joc Pederson
C: Yasmani Grandal
LF: Kiké Hernandez
P: Clayton Kershaw

Giants lineup:

CF: Denard Span
2B: Joe Panik
3B: Matt Duffy
C: Buster Posey
1B: Brandon Belt
LF: Mac Williamson
SS: Brandon Crawford
RF: Jarrett Parker
P: Johnny Cueto