Edinson Volquez tries to exorcise his Coors Field demons.

Edinson VolquezEdinson Volquez has a chance to make the Dodgers look very, very good today.

Led by Ricky Nolasco, yesterday’s 7-4 win over the Rockies gave the appearance that the Dodgers can rest half their starters, give up six runs and still win. (The appropriate response: “Must be nice.”)

Can the Dodgers one-up themselves?

Several starting position players are getting the day off again as the Dodgers go for the sweep today — Yasiel Puig, Carl Crawford, Andre Ethier, Adrian Gonzalez and Mark Ellis. The scheduled starter, Volquez, has the sixth-highest career ERA at Coors Field (8.39) of any pitcher with at least seven starts at the ballpark. In three starts this season he’s allowed 21 runs, all earned, in 12 ⅔ innings at Coors. That’s made for a 14.92 ERA, the highest in a single season for any pitcher with at least three starts at the park.

Short of trading for Jeremy Guthrie and putting him on the mound — his 9.50 career ERA is the highest of any active starter at Coors — the Dodgers are doing their best to prove they can win with anybody in Denver.

Volquez has told reporters that he might have been tipping pitches recently. If that was indeed the problem and the magician has been revealing his secrets, pitching coach Rick Honeycutt‘s magic-bullet discovery would be enough to make Penn and Teller jealous.

A couple pregame notes:

• The Atlanta Braves lost to the New York Mets, temporarily moving the Dodgers 1 ½ games behind the Braves for the NL’s best record.

• As of last night, the Dodgers now lead the majors in average road attendance, drawing 2,392,116 in 67 dates for an average of 35,703. The Dodgers’ 45,696 average at home also leads MLB.

• The Arizona Diamondbacks’ game against the Toronto Blue Jays (click here for the live box score) will be over by the time the Dodgers take the field. Arizona is currently 13 ½ games out of first place. The Dodgers’ magic number to clinch the division is 12.

Here’s how the two teams will line up for the 5:40 p.m. game (televised locally on KCAL, Channel 9):
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Dodgers rest Hanley Ramirez and Yasiel Puig, bat Michael Young fourth against Colorado Rockies.

Michael Young

Michael Young is 0 for 1 with one strikeout in his Dodgers career. (Associated Press)

Michael Young is batting cleanup in his first start for the Dodgers on a day off for both Hanley Ramirez and Yasiel Puig in Denver.

Young, who was acquired from the Philadelphia Phillies for minor-league pitcher Rob Rasmussen ahead of the Sunday waiver trade deadline, struck out as a pinch-hitter in the Dodgers’ 10-8 win yesterday. He becomes the first player since Jeff Conine in 2003 to make his first start for his new team in the cleanup hole after being acquired on Aug. 31.

This is not new territory for Young. The 36-year-old from Covina has appeared in 99 games at third base this season (compared to 24 at first base) and went 3 for 10 in three games as a cleanup hitter with the Phillies this year. His .325 batting average and .375 on-base percentage in 99 career games as a cleanup hitter are his career highs.

Puig was removed midway through Monday’s win with a stiff left knee. Dodgers manager Don Mattingly told reporters after the game that Puig would get the day off today, so that comes as no surprise. Somewhat of a surprise is the absence of Ramirez, who batted cleanup Monday and was the only member of the Dodgers’ starting lineup who didn’t get a hit.

One more pregame note: The Dodgers mentioned in their notes package that Matt Kemp is expected to travel to Camelback Ranch Glendale today to continue his rehab. Kemp has been out since July 24 with a sprained left ankle.

The full lineups for both teams:
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Dodgers 10, Rockies 8.

Yasiel Puig baserunning

Yasiel Puig (66) was called out for interfering with Colorado second baseman D.J. LeMahieu on this play in the first inning. (AAron Ontiveroz/The Denver Post)

Coors Field is a special place.

Visiting teams are best advised to check their formula for winning at the front gate and pick it up on the flight out of Denver. That also applies to the Colorado Rockies, who have tried every formula in the franchise-building book and have failed. Since Coors opened in 1995, the Rockies have missed the playoffs in 17 of 20 seasons.

There was no recognizable formula for the Dodgers’ win. Their hottest pitcher and position player, Clayton Kershaw and Yasiel Puig, were both on the field when Monday’s game began, but both were on the bench by the end of the Dodgers’ 10-8 win. Puig didn’t finish the game healthy and the major-league leader in innings pitched came nowhere close to finishing the game, getting yanked after five innings and 81 pitches. A series of mental errors, physical errors and pitching changes added up to a choppy game.
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Clayton Kershaw, Dodgers look to extend streaks against slumping Colorado Rockies.

The Dodgers will play the Colorado Rockies six times in their final 24 games this season, and their timing couldn’t be better.

The last time these two teams played on July 14, the Rockies were in third place, four games under .500 and two games behind the Dodgers for second place.

It might as well have been last season. The standings today have the two teams 17 games apart. The Dodgers are looking toward October and the Rockies are looking toward 2014.

Dodgers starter Clayton Kershaw, meanwhile, is in the midst of a season that people will be talking about beyond even next season. He’s allowed seven earned runs since the All-Star break and driven in five. In terms of ERA, Coors Field is Kershaw’s second-worst pitching venue; it’s also among his favorite parks to bat in, putting him in line with nearly every pitcher who has stood on the mound and in the batter’s box in Denver.

No Michael Young in the starting lineup today. No Troy Tulowitzki for the Rockies; he’s getting a scheduled day off to rest his legs.

Here are both lineups for the 1 p.m. game:
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Daily Distractions: Outdoor hockey invades Dodger Stadium.

Stadium Series

Say hello to the “Stadium Series.”

That’s what the NHL is calling the first outdoor NHL game in Los Angeles, which today was formally announced and scheduled for Jan. 25, 2014 at Dodger Stadium (and reported here last month). What will you call it?

According to the league, it will be the first outdoor regular-season NHL game played in the U.S. west of the Mississippi River, the southern-most outdoor NHL game ever and the first ever in California.

Tickets aren’t available yet but it’s believed that Kings and Ducks season ticket holders will get first dibs, with details to be announced soon.

Onto the bullet points:
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Postgame thoughts: Colorado Rockies 7, Dodgers 3.

This conference on the mound in the fourth inning didn’t help Josh Beckett (third from right). It merely delayed the inevitable in the Dodgers’ 7-3 loss to the Colorado Rockies, a game that lasted 3 hours, 54 minutes. (John McCoy/Staff Photographer)

You got the sense that Josh Beckett could live with the smaller strike zone imposed by home plate umpire Larry Vanover tonight. Beckett could even live with the three runs he allowed in the first inning, maybe because he didn’t want to throw his shortstop, Hanley Ramirez, under the bus for committing an error that left him pitching out of the stretch one batter into the game.

No, there were other things happened tonight specifically, and this season in general, that Beckett has not made peace with.

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Daily Distractions: Caving to the #whiff, like the rest of MLB

There’s an episode of The Simpsons in which Krusty the Clown agreed to give away a free Krusty Burger if the United States won gold at certain events in the 1984 Olympics. When the Soviet Union boycotted the Games, Krusty stood to lose $44 million.

For some reason I was reminded of this episode when this came through my Twitter feed this morning:

CJ Wilson ad

Angels pitcher C.J. Wilson is a pitchman for Head & Shoulders’ hashtag-friendly “Season of the Whiff”.

You see, Procter & Gamble is donating $1 to the Reviving Baseball in Inner Cities (RBI) campaign every time a Major League Baseball player strikes out this season. To raise awareness of its Head & Shoulders shampoo brand, P&G is encouraging fans to tweet the hashtag #whiff along with the hashtag of your favorite team.

According to AdAge.com, Head & Shoulders spent $60 million in measured media last year, so MLB’s record strikeout rate probably won’t leave the company’s executives pulling their hair out like Krusty. Which is good, since bald shampoo executives can’t exactly offer a ringing endorsement of their product.

I’ll be here all week.
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Daily Distractions: Dodgers sign Mark Lowe; Hanley Ramirez hurt (briefly); NL West rumblings.

Mark Lowe

Mark Lowe is, in many ways, a typical spring training reclamation project. The 29-year-old’s fastball was once clocked at 101 mph, but now sits in the low 90s. He is a veteran of parts of seven major-league seasons and two surgeries: Elbow microfracture (2006) and back microdisectomy (2010). He’s also a Type 1 diabetic.

Now, Lowe is the newest Dodger courtesy of a minor-league contract with an invitation to spring training. ESPN’s Jerry Crasnick first reported the deal, which would pay $1.5 million in base salary if Lowe makes the team.

Unlike most reclamation projects, Lowe was pitching effectively at the major-league level last season. He allowed only eight runs in his first 31 appearances for the Rangers but faded in September, allowing earned runs in four of five appearances (18.90 ERA). He was sidelined for six weeks at midseason with a strained intercostal muscle in his ribcage after throwing a career-high three innings in one game.

The right-hander is not a complete longshot to make the team, but he’ll have to prove he belongs in a crowded Dodgers bullpen. More on that later.

Some links to send you into the weekend:

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Daily Distractions: Alfredo Silverio, Clayton Kershaw, Sandy Amoros, etc.

Alfredo Silverio: Damaged goods or the one that got away?

Alfredo  SilverioMLB.com reports that the minor-league outfielder, scooped up by the Miami Marlins in the Rule 5 draft, seems ready to come back from a devastating car accident last year that wiped out his season and ended his tenure with the Dodger organization.

For about a week, Silverio has been working out at the Marlins’ Spring Training complex in Jupiter. He has been taking part in the team’s voluntary minicamp at Roger Dean Stadium.

On the back fields, Silverio is taking batting practice and doing some drills, while not pushing it when it comes to throwing.

“I feel back to normal,” the outfielder said.

Silverio wasn’t one of the three Dodgers prospects ranked among the majors’ top 100 by MLB.com yesterday. (Those spots went to Yasiel Puig, Zach Lee and Joc Pederson.) You figure Silverio either belongs somewhere in that group or he won’t be the same player once he faces live pitching. Only time will tell.

Some links for a midweek morning:

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Rockies turn to 21-year-old Rafael Ortega.

Dodger fans looking for someone to epitomize the dire state of today’s opponent, the Colorado Rockies, have their man. Batting second and playing center field for the Rockies, is Rafael Ortega.

Here’s all you need to know about Ortega: The 21-year-old Venezuelan has never played an inning of baseball beyond the Single-A California League. He ended the season with a .284 batting average and 36 stolen bases for the Modesto Nuts. The Cal League is notorious for being a hitter’s league; the “average” batting average in the league this season was .273.

Today, he’ll make his big-league debut.

Here’s more from the Denver Post:

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