Thursday, June 27, 2013

Kershaw starts and Jansen ends a Giant sweep

Ladies and gentlemen, the Dodgers are ready to play some ball.

It took nearly three months, but after beating the Giants 4-2 on Wednesday night to secure a three-game sweep, the Dodgers FINALLY look ready to take off.  That's what happens when Team DL gets healthy.

Of course, it also helps that some guy named Clayton Kershaw was on the mound.

For the billionth time, Kershaw was awesome against the hated rivals, coming within three outs of going the distance.  He earned his first win since seven starts ago on May 20.  That fact alone shows just how lost his offense has been behind him.

The game started off as an old school contest between Kershaw and Tim Lincecum.  And I use the phrase "old school" since Lincecum looks like a shell of his former self.  But each looked pretty good through five innings.

The Dodgers got the scoring going in the third.  Mark Ellis hit leadoff and singled.  Yasiel Puig flew out, but Adrian Gonzalez singled right after that.  The red hot Hanley Ramirez stroked an RBI single to center, and it was 1-0.

Kershaw was rolling along through everybody not named Buster Posey in the Giants' order.  Unfortunately, Posey made sure to leave the biggest mark.  After Kershaw walked Marco Scutaro to start the fourth, Posey took a flat breaking ball over the wall in left for the two-run tater, making it 2-1.  Man, that guy is something else.  Even as a die-hard Dodger fan, he's fun to watch.

The old Dodgers may have rolled over and played dead at this point, even just being down a run.  But with new life, they came right back in the fifth.  Once again, it was Ramirez to get things going with a one-out single.  He then stole second, which is always a great sign after missing time with a bad hamstring injury.  An RBI single by Andre Ethier, starting in place of Matt Kemp in center, made it 2-2.

This is where Lincecum showed his more current self, as he pretty much fell apart.  Ethier stole second, though I get the feeling that was more luck as the throw was pretty bad.  A.J. Ellis ripped an RBI double to left to make it 3-2.  Juan Uribe reached on an infield single to third, though to be fair again, it sure looked like an error on a low throw by Pablo Sandoval.

Right after Lincecum uncorked a wild pitch to bring in Ellis to put the Dodgers up 4-2, Bruce Bochy brought the hook on a 2-1 count.  Jose Mijares struck out both Skip Schumaker and Kershaw to escape more damage.

Kershaw was fantastic in getting through the seventh and eighth, so Don Mattingly allowed him to go for the complete game as he hovered around 100 pitches.  Unfortunately for him, he walked Scutaro on a full count, which meant the end of his evening, as Jansen and Kemp entered the game as part of a double switch.

That damn Posey singled to center right away to put two on with none out.  That was all the Giants would do, as Jansen struck out Hunter Pence, did the same to Sandoval on a long at-bat, and got pinch-hitter Brandon Belt to pop to Ramirez to end it.  It was Jansen's sixth save.

Let's first take a moment to marvel at just how dominating Kershaw has been against the Giants.  In 19 career starts against them, he's 10-4 with a 1.33 ERA, 0.84 WHIP, .177 BAA, and 146 K's in 142 IP.  He pretty much shuts down any team, but it's especially sweet to see him own the Giants as much as he does.  You can imagine the Giants have tried many different approaches against him by now.  None of them work.

Let's also thank Jansen for making us temporarily forget the trainwreck that's been Brandon League.  Jansen now has nine strikeouts in his last four innings, as about the only thing hitters have done against his cutter is foul it off or whiff.  League is atrocious, so thankfully the Dodgers had someone more than capable of closing the door in the ninth.

Perhaps the best thing about this game, and this series, is that it's been about more than just Puig.  Don't get me wrong, that boy deserves all the praise in the world for doing what he does (except for trying to stretch singles into doubles... yuck).  But now people are talking about Ramirez, Kershaw, Jansen, and how guys like Ethier and Uribe are playing better.  It's now a team thing instead of just one guy.

There's no rest for the Dodgers as they welcome in the Phillies for four.  They, too, have had a rough season, as they're three games under .500.  Zack Greinke will get the call on Thursday night.

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