MLB Baseball

Final 1 2 3   4 5 6   7 8 9   R H E
LA Dodgers0 0 1 0 2 3 0 0 0 691
LA Angels0 0 0 1 0 0 0 1 0 261
  W: C. Kershaw (12-2)   L: J. Ramírez (7-6)   S: K. Jansen (18)
7:07 PM PT8:07 PM MT9:07 PM CT10:07 PM ET22:07 ET2:07 GMT10:07 7:07 PM MST9:07 PM EST9:37 PM VEN6:07 UAE (+1)9:07 PM CT, June 29, 2017
Angel Stadium of Anaheim, Anaheim, California  Attendance: 44,807

Angels brace for battle with Dodgers' Kershaw

ANAHEIM, Calif. -- The bad news for the Los Angeles Angels is that they have to face left-hander Clayton Kershaw when they take the field against the Los Angeles Dodgers on Thursday.

The good news?

Well, if there is such a thing when facing Kershaw, it's that he isn't coming off a rare off-night.

That's what the Colorado Rockies were faced with Saturday, when they opposed a Kershaw who had given up a personal-worst four home runs to the New York Mets in his previous start. Though Kershaw found trouble in the first inning against the Rockies, he settled in and threw six scoreless innings.

On Thursday, the Angels will get the "regular" Kershaw, which is no small task. In nine career starts against them, he is 5-2 with a 2.69 ERA and a .202 opponents' batting average.

Only one current Angel has a career average against Kershaw higher than .286. Angels designated hitter Albert Pujols has hit Kershaw well over the years, batting .379 (11-for-29) with four doubles.

Angels manager Mike Scioscia figures to stack his lineup with right-handed hitters against Kershaw (11-2, 2.47 ERA). Kole Calhoun, though, could be an exception. The left-handed-hitting Calhoun has two hits in seven at-bats against Kershaw, including a home run.

One of the things that makes Kershaw so good, no matter the opponent, is his mental approach. If he gets in trouble, he is not going to abandon his game plan.

"You have to have that mindset where you can't give in -- that's the biggest thing," Kershaw told the Los Angeles Times. "That old cliche, one pitch at a time, really holds true. You kind of forget about what happened, you try to make that next pitch and just keep doing that until they take you out."

The Angels will start JC Ramirez, the reliever-turned-starter who has been a work-in-progress this season. His 97 mph fastball, along with injuries to others on the staff, helped him get into the rotation. But he has had to figure out how to approach hitters a second, third and sometimes a fourth time in a single game -- something he didn't have to do as a reliever.

In 14 starts, Ramirez (7-5, 4.38) has held the opposing team to two earned runs or fewer eight times. In his most recent start, he gave up one run and four hits in six innings during a 6-3 victory over the Boston Red Sox on Saturday.

However, he also has had a few clunkers. Ramirez has allowed five earned runs or more four times, the most recent coming June 18 against the Kansas City Royals, when he gave up five runs and lasted just three innings.

Ramirez said his struggles come when he thinks too much. Keeping things simple has helped him find a rhythm and groove.

"That was my plan before," he told the Orange County Register. "I don't know why I lost it. But I got the results (again)."

Ramirez has faced the Dodgers twice in his career, both times as a reliever. He threw 3 2/3 scoreless innings in those outings, retiring all 11 batters he faced.

After the Angels pulled out a 3-2 win over the Dodgers on Wednesday, they will be looking to finish with three victories in the four-game, home-and-home series that concludes Thursday.

Updated June 29, 2017

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