The Dodgers and Blue Jays each began the season with high expectations after filling their rosters with star players. While Los Angeles is finally living up to its billing, Toronto has yet to find its stride.
The Dodgers have won four straight games following the All-Star break and are 21-5 since June 22, tied with the Rays for the best record in the Major Leagues over that span. L.A. will look to keep rolling on Tuesday with Chris Capuano on the mound in the second game of a three-game Interleague series against the Blue Jays at Rogers Centre.
It will the Dodgers' first game as NL West leaders, as they overtook Arizona by a half-game after the D-backs lost to the Cubs late Monday night.
Yasiel Puig gave the Dodgers a spark when he debuted June 3, and the club is 27-14 when the rookie sensation is in the starting lineup. But Dodgers manager Don Mattingly points to the resurgence of shortstop Hanley Ramirez as a key figure in the Dodgers' turnaround.
Ramirez played just four games in April and May because of surgery on his right thumb and a hamstring issue. When the former National League batting champion finally got healthy in mid-June, the Dodgers got on a roll. Ramirez is hitting .430 (49-for-114) in 30 games since June 19, with nine home runs, 20 doubles, 28 RBIs and 28 runs scored. The Dodgers are 24-12 when Ramirez starts.
"Yasiel was a big part. He brought energy and the city got excited. But Hanley was right there with him," Mattingly said. "We got healthy together. That's when we really took off."
The Blue Jays, meanwhile, are winless in four games since the All-Star break and have fallen eight games below .500. Toronto has not won consecutive games since reeling off an 11-game win streak in June.
"We're struggling right now and we just need to continue coming with the right attitude in the game with our head up and continue to play, continue to battle," Blue Jays shortstop Jose Reyes said. "We know we're struggling right now and we have to turn it around as soon as possible."
The Blue Jays will look to halt the Dodgers' surge behind rookie Todd Redmond, who is making his third straight start. The right-hander is 1-0 with a 5.00 ERA since joining the rotation on July 7. He went five innings in his first start, then struck out six over four innings in his last outing.
Capuano fired 6 1/3 scoreless innings in his last start on July 11, beating the Rockies at home. The left-hander is 1-2 with a 2.91 ERA in seven road games. He's faced Toronto just once, when he allowed one run on four hits in five innings as a member of the Brewers in 2005.
Dodgers: Kemp nursing sprained ankle
Dodgers center fielder Matt Kemp is unlikely to play Tuesday and Wednesday, the result of a sprained left ankle.
The club will decide Tuesday whether Kemp needs to go on the disabled list, according to Mattingly. But the manager said Monday he was less confident Kemp would avoid a third trip to the disabled list this season than he was after Sunday's game, when Kemp injured the ankle sliding into home plate. X-rays on Kemp's ankle Monday were negative.
Kemp has already missed 35 games over two stints on the disabled list with hamstring and shoulder issues. He was activated Sunday and homered in his first at-bat, but injured his ankle in the ninth inning of a 9-2 win against the Nationals.
Puig started in center Monday, but Mattingly said Andre Ethier would probably start in center Tuesday and Wednesday.
Blue Jays: Lawrie capable at second base and third
While Blue Jays infielder Brett Lawrie has started five of the past six games at second base, he will also see time at third.
Lawrie, who was a second baseman in the Brewers farm system before moving to third when Toronto acquired him in 2010, started fielding ground balls at second during his recent Minor League rehab assignment. But management still wants him to play some at third.
"Over time we're just going to take a look at that," Blue Jays manager John Gibbons said. "We're just going to play him at both spots, see how it goes."
While Lawrie is likely to get more time at second, Maicer Izturis and Emilio Bonifacio will also get work at the position.
• Dodgers left fielder Carl Crawford is 7-for-12 with one double and three RBIs over his past three games following a 2-for-30 skid.
• Bonifacio is 7-for-16 (.438) in his career against Capuano, with two doubles and two RBIs.
Austin Laymance is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.