Even when Clayton Kershaw doesn’t look dominant there is still a feeling that the opposition hardly has a chance. Such was the case again Monday night at Dodger Stadium as the 26-year-old limited the San Diego Padres to just three hits and three runs (one earned).
It’s hard enough to beat Kershaw when his offense doesn’t score runs. But when the lefty gets support it’s downright impossible. In a sloppy game for both sides, the Los Angeles Dodgers came away with a 9-4 victory.
Kershaw lowered his major league leading ERA to 1.68 as he struck out eight and walked a pair in what appeared to be a chance for a complete game. However after just 89 pitches Kershaw would not go back to the mound for the ninth despite pleading his case.
“He definitely wanted to finish. I just felt like it was the right thing,” said manager Don Mattingly. “We had the one inning it seemed like he was rough at all was the inning we hit all the way around. It didn’t seem worth like it was worth it for him to go back out there. Just trying to save him an inning.”
The Dodgers ace allowed a run to score in the fourth inning when the Padres strung together a pair of hits to go along with a walk. The defense behind Kershaw allowed the other two runs in one of the most unbelievable plays one could ever see a major league team make.
In the sixth inning with two on and one out, Rene Rivera flied out to shallow center field. After hesitating, Yasiel Puig hurled an off-balance throw towards first. The ball got past Adrian Gonzalez to start the chaos.
A.J. Ellis picked up the ball and fired to second in an effort to get Rymer Liriano who was trying to advance to second. The ball got past Dee Gordon into center field allowing the runners to move another 90 feet safely. That didn’t prevent Hanley Ramirez from throwing home anyway.
The throw went wide to the first base side of home all the way to the backstop passed a diving Kershaw. On the third errant throw of the inning Liriano brought in another run. A disaster of a play that ended up not factoring into the outcome since the Dodgers had such a large lead.
“That (play) got kinda crazy,” laughed Mattingly. “It’s not going to overshadow because we won. But I did look up and see a full moon.”
“We’ll probably be on the Not Top 10 for awhile. It knocked the wind out of me diving,” said Kershaw on the play. “You can laugh it up now but luckily it wasn’t 0-0 are anything.”
The long wait for Kershaw came in the bottom of the fifth that saw the Dodgers plate four runs after already having a 4-1 lead. Nine men came to the plate as the Dodgers banged out four hits to go with two walks. Matt Kemp’s RBI-double to extend his hit streak to 14 games, followed by a three-run homer off the bat of Carl Crawford highlighted the frame.
The Dodgers offense had no problems with starter Odrisamer Despaigne — or any other Padres pitcher — as they cranked out 13 hits as a group.
The run support started early when Gordon and Ramirez combined efforts in the first inning. Gordon singled and stole his 59th base of the season, then scored on a Ramirez soft liner into left (a theme for the evening). The two would combine again in the eighth for the ninth and final run of the night.
Juan Uribe chipped in a pair of hits in a 2-for-4 night. The Dodger third baseman — who flashed the leather all night on defense — hit a rocket that just snuck inside the right field foul line for a solo shot in the second inning.
The struggling Puig also got into the act on Monday night. After just four hits in his last 41 at-bats (.098) and eight hits in his last 68 plate appearances, Puig smoked an RBI-single and also walked.
The Dodgers take advantage of the idle San Francisco Giants and extend their division lead to 3.5 games while lowering their magic number to 16.
WP: Clayton Kershaw (18-3, 1.67)
LP: Odrisamer Despaigne (3-6, 3.55)