Coming off back to back losses to the division rival Diamondbacks, the Dodgers ..."/> Coming off back to back losses to the division rival Diamondbacks, the Dodgers ..."/>

Clayton Kershaw’s 12 K’s Salvage Giant Series


Coming off back to back losses to the division rival Diamondbacks, the Dodgers headed to the bay to face the San Francisco Giants in a three game set. Chad Billingsley, Rubby De La Rosa and Clayton Kershaw would need some sort of offense to be able to win in this series, since  the Dodgers have lacked offense. Matt Kemp seems to be doing all the work and he’s getting a bit desperate in his swinging, but three games against the division leaders could help the Dodgers climb the NL West standings.

Chad Billingsley was first against the Giants, and he’d be met by All-Star Ryan Vogelsong for the series opener. After trading zeroes through three innings, the Giants would get some offense by a martial arts animal. Kung Fu Panda hit a long drive into the seats in deep right field to give Vogelsong a 1-0 lead. The Dodgers squandered a couple men in scoring position in the early innings, and in the top of the sixth, Aaron Miles was left at third after Rivera popped out to end the inning. Vogelsong was doing well with a one-run lead, but he would get some Giant support in the bottom of the sixth, with Billingsley still on the mound, the Giants put up a four-spot. Back to back singles by Fontenot and Sandoval put men on the corners with no one out, allowing Schierholtz’s RBI single to give the Giants a 2-0 lead. Two batters later, Cody Ross  added a two run double to make it 4-0 and for insurance, Brandon Crawford made it 5-0, adding an RBI single to score Ross. It seemed like the Dodgers had a rally set up in the top of the seventh with the bases loaded with two out. but for the second time in the game, Miles stranded runners on base.  From then on, the Giants put this one on cruise control and shutout the Dodgers. Vogelsong’s ERA dropped to an impressive 2.02. The lack of offense was killing the Dodgers. They needed runs.

The rookie De La Rosa looked to make a good start, hoping that he’d get more run support than Billingsley did, and the Giants’ Madison Bumgardner would oppose him. De la Rosa ran into trouble quickly, with two men in scoring position in the bottom of the first, though he buckled down and ended the inning with back to back strikeouts. Brandon Belt, who had just been called up from the AAA Fresno Grizzlies, made a quick impression with a homerun to lead off the second inning. Three batters later, Bumgardner added an RBI groundout to make it 2-0. The Dodgers would finally get on the board this series in the top of the third, when Tony Gwynn Jr. doubled in Loney to cut the deficit in half. Rafael Furcal then gave the Dodgers their first lead of the series with a two run double. With the lead entering the fifth, De La Rosa allowed three hits, with the third being an RBI single to Sandoval. With a 3-3 tie, Kuo took the mound for the Blues, and the bases were juiced for Belt when he brought in two with a double into left. The 5-3 lead would be more than enough as Brian Wilson came in to the game and pitched a scoreless ninth to send the Dodgers into a four-game skid. They needed pitching and batting. Could All-Star Kershaw get them a solid outing? And for God’s sake can someone give him some run support?

With homeruns in the first two games, the Giants might just have hit a brick wall when facing Kershaw. No one in Bochy’s lineup had hit a HR against Kershaw, and with fellow All-Star Time Lincecum facing him, Kershaw knew a premier pitching matchup was on hand for the series finale. Both teams would waste early opportunities with men on base. In the first, both teams left men on third. After Navarro’s second throwing error on the day, Kershaw coaxed a groundout to end the inning. Giants batters weren’t doing too well, whiffing at Kershaw’s pitches, and striking out early and often. Kershaw struck out the side in the sixth, flexing his muscles and absolutely dumbfounding the Giants lineup, giving him nine strikeouts through six innings. Finally, some offense came into the game in the seventh, when catcher Dioner Navarro went deep down the right field line. The ball landed in McCovey cove, the first ball to land in McCovey cove by an opposing batter. Navarro’s third blast of the year was enough for Kershaw, as he would strikeout Schierholtz swinging, Torres looking and Fontenot swinging in the eighth, giving the lefty a season high twelve strikeouts in this one. That made this his MLB high sixth start with at least eight K’s, and gives him a major league leading 167 strikeouts on the season. Guerra pitched a perfect ninth for the save and the Dodgers snapped a four game skid.

The series dropped the Dodgers to 43-55 this season, but Kershaw has pitched 24 2/3’s consecutive scoreless innings at AT&T Park. His last five starts against the Giants have been nothing short of dominant, with a 1.01 ERA with 38 K’s. The Dodgers have an off day tomorrow and will host the Nationals in a three game set  at Chavez Ravine beginning on Friday night. They are 13.5 games back of the Giants, and with the offense lacking, hopefully an off day will give them a chance to regain their swing. The biggest thing is to not squander runners on base (that’s an understatement). All they need is a spark.

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