Lincecum and Kershaw will square off in the series opener, with Kershaw looking to continue his dominance of the Giants and become a 20-game winner for the first time. But this isn't exactly the same San Francisco team the Cy Young Award candidate has beaten up on all year. The Giants enter Tuesday on an eight-game winning streak, their first since 2007, during which they have outscored opponents 57-23.
And there is quite a bit at stake in this matchup as well -- even more so than when Lincecum and Kershaw met on Opening Day, July 20 and Sept. 9. With their winning streak and a few well-timed losses by the D-backs and Braves, the Giants have climbed to within four games of Atlanta in the National League Wild Card standings and sit five back of Arizona in the National League West.
Of course, if there's anyone who can bring San Francisco's resurgence to a screeching halt, it's Kershaw. The lefty is 4-0 with a 1.04 ERA in five starts against the Giants this year and 5-1 with a 1.26 ERA in 11 career games against Los Angeles' division rival.
Kershaw's miniscule ERA is the lowest all-time against the Giants (minimum 60 innings pitched), and he has been particularly effective when lining up against Lincecum.
In the three games they've started opposite each other this season, Kershaw is 3-0 with no earned runs allowed in 23 innings, racking up 30 strikeouts against just three walks. Lincecum has been nearly as effective but hasn't had anything to show for it, going 0-2 with two earned runs allowed in 22 innings while striking out 19 and walking nine.
If the Giants manage to scratch across a few runs for Lincecum, they could finally put Kershaw in the loss column. Lincecum is 54-4 when the Giants score at least three runs for him, and San Francisco has posted an incredible 53-9 record this season when scoring four runs or more.
The Dodgers aren't devoid of motivation, however. This will be Kershaw's first chance at a 20-win season. It would be the first by a Dodgers pitcher since Ramon Martinez went 20-6 in 1990. And, of course, the Dodgers can still dash the playoff dreams of their longtime rivals.
"At this time, it's hard to get excited about ruining somebody's year," Dodgers manager Don Mattingly said. "But they are getting back into it, so the atmosphere should be fun."
Giants: Wilson returns with perfect frame
Brian Wilson was activated off the disabled list before Sunday's game, and the low-leverage eighth inning of Sunday's 12-5 win proved to be the perfect time to get the bearded closer back on the mound. The right-hander didn't allow a baserunner and struck out two as he worked through the eighth inning on 16 pitches, 10 of them strikes.
Giants manager Bruce Bochy said Wilson, who hadn't pitched since Aug. 15, will resume his closing duties Tuesday night if the situation calls for it.
The Giants hit six home runs in Sunday's series finale against the Rockies -- two in one inning from Pablo Sandoval and one each from Mike Fontenot, Brandon Belt, Brandon Crawford and even pitcher Matt Cain. San Francisco's last six-homer game was Aug. 7, 2006, against Arizona.
Dodgers: No days off for MVP candidate Kemp
Mattingly said he spoke with Matt Kemp on Saturday about taking a day off as the season winds down, only to have the NL MVP candidate laugh at the notion. Kemp has played 354 straight games, the longest active streak in the Majors. Kemp is the 13th player in Major League history with at least 30 homers and 40 steals in a single season, and he is also the eighth Los Angeles Dodger with 100 runs and 100 RBIs in the same year.
Kemp with 3-for-4 with a home run, double, two RBIs and three runs scored Sunday, boosting his batting average to .320 on the year. He was removed in the sixth to loud chants of "M-V-P" from the Dodger faithful.
Rookie outfielder Jerry Sands will enter Tuesday's game on a season-high seven-game hitting streak after going 4-for-6 with four RBIs on Sunday against the Pirates.
The Giants are 42-2 this year when recording three hits or more with runners in scoring position.
Giants setup man Sergio Romo currently has the second-longest active scoreless innings streak in the Majors, with a career-high 20 1/3 shutout frames. He hasn't allowed a run in his last 25 games, during which he has allowed only seven baserunners and held opponents to a .094 average. Only Boston's Jonathan Papelbon holds a longer active scoreless streak, with 22 consecutive shutout innings.