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Hot Dodgers host upstart Royals on MLB.TV

MLB.com

Two of the hottest teams in baseball will face off in Los Angeles tonight, as the Royals face the Dodgers at 10:10 p.m. ET to open a weekend series. The Royals were 22-30 through the first two months of the season, but since June 1, they've gone 22-10, including wins in seven of their past nine games.

Meanwhile, the Dodgers own the best record in the National League after winning 21 of 28 games in June, which vaulted them into first place in the NL West.

Two of the hottest teams in baseball will face off in Los Angeles tonight, as the Royals face the Dodgers at 10:10 p.m. ET to open a weekend series. The Royals were 22-30 through the first two months of the season, but since June 1, they've gone 22-10, including wins in seven of their past nine games.

Meanwhile, the Dodgers own the best record in the National League after winning 21 of 28 games in June, which vaulted them into first place in the NL West.

The Royals-Dodgers matchup leads an exciting slate of action as we reach the final weekend before the All-Star break. And you can see it all on MLB.TV.

MLB.TV Premium is now available for $79.99 yearly or $24.99 monthly, with nearly two dozen features for subscribers to access and interact with live out-of-market Major League Baseball games at 60 frames per second on any of the more than 400 supported devices. MLB.TV Single Team subscriptions are also available at $59.99 yearly.

Here's what to watch for on Friday (all times Eastern):

Red-hot in blue: KC@LAD, 10:10 p.m.

As the Royals eye the top spot in the AL Central, they have the tall order of facing a Dodgers offense that smashed 53 homers in June alone, led by T-Mobile Home Run Derby participant Cody Bellinger's 13 during the month.

Kansas City right-hander Jason Hammel (4-7, 5.08 ERA) will be tasked with containing the Dodgers' explosive lineup. After a strong June, in which he posted a 2.51 ERA over five starts, Hammel was hit hard for seven runs (six earned) over 5 1/3 innings against the Twins last Saturday.

Hammel has some experience facing the Dodgers, having pitched in the NL for the Rockies and Cubs; in four starts against Los Angeles since 2015, he has given up six earned runs in 17 innings (3.18 ERA).

The Dodgers will counter with right-hander Kenta Maeda (6-4, 4.56 ERA), who, much like Hammel, had a strong June (1.71 ERA in five appearances/three starts) but was roughed up in his last start to the tune of five runs over 3 2/3 frames against the Padres last Sunday. Maeda, who has a 3.27 ERA in eight home appearances this season (six starts), has never faced the Royals.

Video: BOS@KC: Hammel fans four across seven strong innings

Power brewing in the Bronx: MIL@NYY, 7:05 p.m.

The NL Central-leading Brewers head to the Bronx to take on the Yankees in a matchup that features two of the game's leading sluggers, Aaron Judge and Eric Thames. Judge, who will participate in the T-Mobile Home Run Derby on Monday night, leads MLB with 29 homers, which ties the Yankee rookie mark held by Joe DiMaggio.

Thames, meanwhile, has begun to heat up again after a torrid start to the season that was followed by an offensive lull. He belted 11 homers in April, but combined for nine in May and June, hitting .163/.267/.402 last month. But so far in July, Thames is slashing .333/.500/1.083 with three homers.

Right-hander Junior Guerra (1-3, 4.93 ERA) is scheduled to take the ball for Milwaukee. In three road starts this season, he has a 6.19 ERA. He's never faced the Yankees.

Jordan Montgomery (6-4, 3.62 ERA) is slated to start for New York. The 24-year-old left-hander posted a 2.59 ERA with 31 strikeouts and eight walks over 31 1/3 innings in June. In his lone July start, he gave up three runs over 5 1/3 innings against the Astros last Saturday.

Video: BAL@MIL: Thames powers a pair of solo shots

Sizzling Scherzer vs. nasty knuckleballer: ATL@WAS, 7:05 p.m.

Max Scherzer (10-5, 1.94 ERA), the reigning NL Pitcher of the Month, is slated to start for the Nationals against the Braves in Washington. In his first start of July, the right-hander tossed seven scoreless innings against the Cardinals in St. Louis, yielding just two hits while walking two and striking out 12.

Braves hitters will have their work cut out for them, but Atlanta's offense got a big boost with the return of Freddie Freeman to the lineup last Tuesday. In 16 career plate appearances against Scherzer, Freeman has reached base six times, including a double and a homer.

Veteran knuckleballer R.A. Dickey (6-5, 4.44 ERA) will take the mound for Atlanta. Dickey has been outstanding over his past three starts, giving up just two earned runs in 20 innings. In a start at Nationals Park earlier this season, Dickey surrendered eight runs on eight hits, including three home runs, in five innings on June 13.

Video: Scherzer wins NL Pitcher of the Month for June

Young fireballers match up in St. Louis: NYM@STL, 8:15 p.m.

A pair of young flamethrowers will face off at Busch Stadium on Friday, with the Mets' Jacob deGrom and the Cardinals' Carlos Martinez slated to take the mound.

In two career starts at Busch Stadium, deGrom (8-3, 3.55 ERA) has struggled, giving up 11 runs in 9 innings. He also has struggled away from Citi Field this season, posting a 4.56 road ERA compared to a 2.56 ERA in eight home starts. Over his last four starts overall, however (three home, one road), deGrom has given up just three earned runs over 32 innings (1.13 ERA).

Video: PHI@NYM: deGrom K's 12 in seven one-run innings

Martinez (6-7, 3.15 ERA) is coming off a rough start against the Nationals, giving up five runs on seven hits over five innings last Sunday. The 25-year-old has been very good against the Mets, however: In seven career appearances against New York (four starts), he has a 1.26 ERA.

Manny Randhawa is a reporter for MLB.com based in Denver. Follow him on Twitter at @MannyOnMLB.