LOS ANGELES -- For someone who began the season as a long man in the bullpen, Thomas Stripling has gone from deflecting suggestions of an All-Star first half to the realization that he's having one.Hours before he pitched the Dodgers to a 3-2 win over the Giants Friday night, it
LOS ANGELES -- For someone who began the season as a long man in the bullpen, Thomas Stripling has gone from deflecting suggestions of an All-Star first half to the realization that he's having one.
Hours before he pitched the Dodgers to a 3-2 win over the Giants Friday night, it really hit home when ballots were handed out in the clubhouse for the players' All-Star vote, and right then and there Ross Stripling saw his own name on the ballot. He admits it's on his radar.
"If you think about Alex Wood being 11-1 at the break last year and he was like, the last guy in," Stripling said of his All-Star teammate. "You never know if you'll have another chance in a six- or eight- or 10-year career to make an All-Star team, so I'm trying to do my best to get there. It would really be cool."
And really deserving. Not only is Stripling 6-1 with a six-game win streak, his ERA of 1.76 would be second in the league if he had 1 2/3 more innings to qualify. He struck out six without a walk, and hasn't walked anybody in six of his last seven starts. He's allowed more than two runs in just one of his nine starts.
"I expected him to keep us in ballgames and give us a chance to win every game," manager Dave Roberts said, recalling when Stripling was pressed into starter duty.
And most of all, Stripling is doing this with most of the starting rotation on the disabled list, doing what the team desperately needed and what nobody really expected, not even him.
"When Doc [Roberts] first told me I was going to start, I almost imagined I'd be piggybacking, go a couple innings and someone else would go a couple," said Stripling, not quite believing the club would give him a true opportunity to win a starting job.
"I really didn't know what to expect. I knew I wanted to be a starter, I wanted an opportunity, I knew I could do it. But, you don't know exactly how it's going to go until you take the ball every fifth day."
But having made reference to Wood, Stripling knows that reputation goes a long way in All-Star consideration.
"A lot of guys say Michael Trout doesn't get the recognition because he plays on the West Coast," he said, making an unspoken comparison. "And then being an unknown guy having a random good year."
Stripling retired 12 consecutive Giants at one point and allowed only four hits in 6 2/3 innings, chased by a two-run, opposite-field home run by Pablo Sandoval.
And he was honest enough to concede that the odds were in his favor before the game even began.
"They played 16 innings in Miami yesterday, that helps," Stripling said of the Giants' taxing back-to-back games. "I was watching that game yesterday, feeling bad for them, and I'm there chillin'. When you know they did that, had to fly cross country, you know they're tired, [Buster] Posey not in the lineup, go after them right off the bat, put them down while they're down and not have much fight."
Enrique Hernandez homered in the first inning off Derek Holland and Matt Kemp -- playing while appealing a one-game suspension for fighting handed down on Friday -- homered in the fourth, when a three-base error by Giants center fielder Austin Jackson on Yasmani Grandal's warning-track fly resulted in an unearned (and ultimately decisive) third run, doubled home by Yasiel Puig.
"I hear that stuff before the game on the screen, that we've hit home runs in 13 straight games and we're leading the NL," Stripling said. "Think about us getting off to rough start, now we're really seeing it at the plate, hitting for slug, and it's good to know I'm going to get run support."
The Dodgers are 10-2 this month and have won 20 of 26 dating back to May 17. They remain 2 1/2 games behind first-place Arizona.
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED
The Giants could have set an entirely different tone in the first inning after Joe Panik led off the game with a double. But Stripling sandwiched strikeouts of Alen Hanson and Brandon Crawford around a groundout by Andrew McCutchen, retiring 12 consecutive batters until Sandoval's single leading off the fifth while his teammates were building him a 3-0 lead.
After a rocky April, Jansen is looking like an All-Star again. In his last 23 appearances, he has a 1.08 ERA and is 14-for-14 in save conversions.
HE SAID IT
"This is who he is. He was attacking hitters. He was spot-on tonight." -- Roberts, on Stripling
Wood opposes Madison Bumgarner and the Giants in Saturday's 5:15 p.m. PT start. Wood is one of the few Dodgers pitchers to avoid the disabled list, but he hasn't avoided hamstring and adductor issues that have contributed to limiting him to one win this year, compared to last year's All-Star form.
Ken Gurnick has covered the Dodgers for MLB.com since 2001.