Fresh off doing his former club a favor, Texas Rangers manager Chris Woodward will return to his hometown looking to cause problems for the Los Angeles Dodgers in the opener of a three-game series Friday.
Woodward's Rangers defeated the San Francisco Giants 4-3 in 11 innings on Wednesday to complete a two-game series split and will face another National League West team.
A native of nearby Covina, Calif., Woodward spent three seasons as a Dodgers coach before he was hired by the Rangers as manager in advance of the 2019 season.
Perhaps the manager's familiar surroundings will help. The Rangers enter with just two victories in their last 14 games and are on a 15-game road losing streak. Their last victory away from home came May 6 at Minnesota.
"When things are going like they've been going, everybody gets a little frustrated, a little uptight, especially the last two-and-a-half weeks," said the Rangers' Brock Holt, who had a game-ending RBI single against the Giants on Wednesday. "It's good to ... fight back and put together some good at-bats, get back into the game plan and end up winning."
Woodward's own home setting provided a sense of comfort for the Dodgers last season. His manager's office at Globe Life Field was used by Dodgers manager Dave Roberts during the neutral-site National League Championship Series and World Series.
"No offense to Dodger Stadium, but I feel like George Jefferson. I've moved on up," Roberts said at the time of the opulence the Rangers' new ballpark afforded. Woodward even left Roberts a note expressing his well wishes for the road ahead. The Dodgers ended up winning a title.
More pleasantries figure to be exchanged pregame Friday before the teams take aim at each other.
The Dodgers also are on a shaky run, at least by their standards, needing a just-completed three-game sweep at Pittsburgh to improve to 7-7 since May 26. They enter a six-game homestand and are still working to distance themselves from a 5-15 stretch (April 18-May 9).
"We're getting back healthy and as a team we haven't really played great. But for us to be in the position that we're in, it's a really good sign," Dodgers outfielder Mookie Betts said on the YouTube broadcast Thursday. "Hopefully a couple of us can get hot here soon and we can string some wins together."
The Rangers will send right-hander Mike Foltynewicz (1-6, 4.75 ERA) to the mound Friday. He gave up five runs in just 3 2/3 innings of a loss to the Colorado Rockies on June 3 but had three starts in May during which he did not give up more than two earned runs.
Foltynewicz, who is 1-2 lifetime against the Dodgers in four starts with a 5.73 ERA, struggles against Los Angeles outfielder AJ Pollock (6-for-10, one home run).
The Rangers will have a challenge ahead starting with a matchup against Clayton Kershaw (7-5, 3.66) on Friday, followed by Los Angeles starters Trevor Bauer (Saturday) and Walker Buehler (Sunday). Kershaw, however, has struggled in his last two outings, giving up five earned runs in each.
Kershaw has just one career start against the Rangers, giving up four runs (three earned) over six innings while losing a 2015 outing.
--Field Level Media