The Los Angeles Dodgers haven't had much to feel good about during April and May, but they might be turning a corner heading into their series finale Sunday at Washington against the Nationals.
The Dodgers (18-26) won both ends of Saturday's doubleheader to give them a three-game winning streak.
"It's a buildup," Dodgers outfielder Matt Kemp told reporters after his two-run single in the ninth lifted the Dodgers to a 5-4 win in the second game. "We haven't been playing as good as we're capable of playing. Today, we beat two good pitchers in one day. That's a pretty big day for us."
The Dodgers will face another good pitcher on Sunday in right-hander Stephen Strasburg (5-3, 3.28).
He's 2-3 with a 2.45 ERA in eight career starts against Los Angeles. He last faced them on Sept. 17, allowing one run (unearned) and two hits in six innings of a 7-1 win in Washington.
The Dodgers will counter with left-hander Alex Wood (0-4, 3.35 ERA).
Wood has allowed one earned run in each of his three starts in May, but doesn't have a win to show for his performances.
He has made 11 starts in his career against the Nationals and is 4-3 with a 2.55 ERA.
The Dodgers were expected to be much higher in the standings after making it to the World Series last season, where they lost in seven games to the Houston Astros.
Their fate began to change when third baseman Justin Turner broke his hand when he was hit by a pitch in the preseason. Then shortstop Corey Seager was lost for the season at the end of April after opting for Tommy John surgery on his throwing elbow.
Staff ace Clayton Kershaw was played on the disabled list a week later because of biceps tendonitis in his throwing arm.
Some good news began to surface this week, however.
Turner returned and is 6-for-13 with two doubles and five RBIs in four games, and Kershaw has begun throwing off a flat surface.
"I don't think we're talking too much longer as far as throwing the bullpen and whatever the next step is, whether it's a rehab start or something like that," Kershaw told AM570 Radio on Saturday.
The Nationals sustained a key loss in the second game on Saturday. Howie Kendrick, playing left field, suffered a torn right Achilles tendon while playing a ball in the corner. He will miss the rest of the season.
"Not too happy but at the same time, I can't play the game any differently," Kendrick told the Washington Post. "I mean, when it happened, I didn't really understand what was happening, why I couldn't move my foot at the time, but then once I found out it was like 'Oh, crap.'"
Kendrick, 34, led the regulars on the Nationals with a .303 batting average in 40 games.
According to the Post, the Nationals plan to call up Juan Soto, a 19-year-old outfielder from the Dominican Republic who was batting.362 with 14 home runs and a 1.218 OPS in 39 games in the minors this season.