Preview: Dodgers, Yankees Conclude Players Weekend With Rubber Match On ESPN Sunday Night Baseball
General view of first base during the series between the New York Yankees and Los Angeles Dodgers
Jayne Kamin-Oncea/USA TODAY Sports

After splitting the first two games, the Los Angeles Dodgers and New York Yankees fittingly conclude Players Weekend and their highly-anticipated series with a rubber match at Dodger Stadium that will be televised nationally as the ESPN Sunday Night Baseball telecast.

While the storied rivals have one win apiece thus far, they’ve come in wildly contrasting games. The Yankees slugged five home runs in a rout on Friday, and the Dodgers bounced back with a 2-1 victory that required Kenley Jansen to strand the bases loaded.

Clayton Kershaw now takes the mound as L.A. looks to clinch a series win and add more distance between themselves and New York for the best record in baseball. Regardless of Sunday’s outcome, the Dodgers will maintain it, by virtue of entering play with a two-game lead.

Kershaw is coming off a start in which he passed Sandy Koufax on the Dodgers’ all-time wins list but labored against the Toronto Blue Jays. He nonetheless went six innings, extending his streak of pitching at least that deep in all 22 outings this season.

Kershaw faced the Yankees in 2016 in what was his second start since returning from a herniated disc that sidelined him for more than two months, and first career outing at Yankee Stadium. Two rain delays wound up making it a bit of an abbreviated one, as he allowed just one hit over five scoreless innings.

The Yankees’ lineup that night included Brett Gardner, Gary Sanchez, Didi Gregorious and Austin Romine; all of whom remain on New York’s current roster. Gregorious, Sanchez and Gardner are in the lineup Sunday.

Kershaw is being caught by Austin Barnes, who makes his first start since being recalled from Triple-A Oklahoma City as a corresponding move to Russell Martin going on the bereavement list. Offensively, Barnes and the Dodgers will look to improve on putting the ball in play against the Yankees.

They’ve managed six hits in each of the first two games and have a combined 27 strikeouts. Domingo Germán has at least seven strikeouts in 13 of his 22 games (21 starts) this season, including in four of the last five starts.

That’s all the more impressive when factoring in the Yankees have only allowed Germán to pitch past the sixth inning on five occasions. But if there’s a problem spot for Germán, he’s allowed at least two home runs in six of his last seven starts.

Dodgers lineup:

LF: Joc Pederson
2B: Max Muncy
3B: Justin Turner
RF: Cody Bellinger
SS: Corey Seager
CF: Chris Taylor
1B: Matt Beaty
C: Austin Barnes
P: Clayton Kershaw

Yankees lineup:

1B: DJ LeMahieu
RF: Aaron Judge
SS: Didi Gregorious
2B: Gleyber Torres
C: Gary Sanchez
CF: Brett Gardner
3B: Gio Urshela
LF: Mike Tauchman
P: Domingo Germán