Friday, August 22, 2014

Turner provides just enough pop for Kershaw

It sure looked like another lifeless night in Dodger Stadium on Thursday.  Tyson Ross was mowing the Dodgers down left and right, and Clayton Kershaw was down 1-0 despite not giving up a hit until the sixth (to Ross, of all people).

So what finally made the crowd come to their feet and wake everyone up?  Why of course... a two-run homer by Justin Turner!

Yes, that really did happen, as Turner's two-run shot in the eighth put the Dodgers ahead for good, as they went on to beat the Padres 2-1.  It sure didn't seem like it, but the Dodgers actually won two of three in this series, and are 3 1/2 games in front of the Giants in the NL West.

Mark Saxon of wrote a great article about how Turner's blast not only gave the Dodgers a needed jolt, but kept Kershaw's MVP hopes alive.  It's true, because any loss Kershaw takes from here on out, no matter how good he is, will only hurt his chances of claiming the NL's top prize.

Right now, Kershaw is 15-3 with a 1.82 ERA, 0.83 WHIP, and 184 K's in 153 1/3 innings.  He's now leading the NL in wins, ERA, WHIP, winning %, and complete games.  He's third in strikeouts, despite missing all of April with a strained back muscle.  Stephen Strasburg leads with 198 K's, and he's made six more starts than Kershaw. 

So yes, Kershaw has been awesome.

What Turner's game-winning homer did was put the spotlight back on Kershaw and his dominant run.  Say the Dodgers took another loss because their offense didn't come through, just like his last start against the Brewers, then the focus would be on the pitiful offense.  It's not like the bats did a whole lot better in this game, but they came through just when it was needed.

And with a little over a month left in the season, the Dodgers will gladly take wins by any means.

Other thoughts from the game:

* I actually feel badly for Padres fans.  If they had any clue how to finish games, they would've gotten a sweep.  Instead, despite grabbing the lead in all three games, they drop two of three.  That lineup is just brutal, and I'm not sure if there's any help on the way.  They just have to hope different guys like Ross step up and deliver.

* Kenley Jansen's 36th save gets him up to fourth in the NL, only two behind leader Francisco Rodriguez.  Who would've though that guy would flashback to his K Rod days?  Good for him.  Jansen is tops in strikeouts by one over Craig Kimbrel (83 to 82) among closers with at least 10 saves.  Pretty impressive.

* Take away Turner's homer, and the last two games have been pretty ugly at the plate.  On Wednesday they had one run on six hits, and last night it was two runs on four hits.  Add it up, and that's three runs on 10 hits in two games, which really sucks.  They just look like a tired bunch.

* Some good news is that all signs are pointing to Hanley Ramirez being activated from the DL on Sunday.  He's not the same hitter as last year, but still an instant threat that this offense desperately needs.  Considering his replacement Miguel Rojas is hitting .203, it's safe to say it's an offensive upgrade.  I mean, duh.

* Dee Gordon continues to struggle, as he's only hitting .243 this month.  He's swinging and missing too many times, and when he did get a single last night, he was instantly erased trying to swipe second.  I wasn't surprised to see him press the issue, as I'm sure he's trying to make things happen a little too much.  The Dodgers really need him to get back on track in September and beyond.

The Mets are next into town for three.  They are once again going nowhere, but are 5-4 on the road this month, if you're a Mets fan and looking for a silver lining.  Dan Haren gets the call in the first game.

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