For six innings of Clayton Kershaw, and one inning of Kenley Jansen, the Dodgers showed just how tough they can be when their big dogs are delivering on the mound.
For one of those innings in between, nearly everything slipped away, but we'll stay positive for now.
Kershaw was able to gather 10 strikeouts in 6 2/3 innings, and Jansen got the rare four-strikeout inning in the eighth, as the Dodgers held off the Rockies in Dodger Stadium 6-4. After two straight games of blowing leads, the Dodgers were able to get back up to a five-game lead in the NL West thanks to the Padres getting blown out by the Nationals.
Kershaw had been waiting a few starts for win #100, and it finally came on Friday. It was smooth sailing through six, as his pitches looked sharper than his last few starts, and the offense built a 6-0 lead. His slider, which sometimes goes MIA, was back and getting lots of swings and misses.
The only problem was that his pitch count was getting way up there, as his location was better, but not where he normally is. That caused him to unravel a bit in the seventh, as he got a couple of outs, but was yanked with two on. Paco Rodriguez gave up a bases clearing double to Daniel Descalso, so Kershaw's final line looked a little worse than he probably deserved with three earned runs.
Earlier in the day, the Dodgers activated Jansen, who was not expected to be in any big situations right off the bat. Well, that's all well and good in theory, but with a struggling bullpen this week, those plans were thrown out the window as he entered a two-run game in the eighth.
The results? Absolute perfection. He struck out CarGo, who went to first when Yasmani Grandal couldn't catch the damn ball. No worries, as Jansen struck out the next three hitters swinging as well, emphatically ending the inning.
You can't possibly have a better return at a better time than Jansen did, as their young arms have taken a step back the last few games, and injuries to Joel Peralta and Pedro Baez have only made it worse. Don Mattingly may say he wants to ease Jansen back in, but give me a break. Give the guy the ball in the ninth and let him go! His cutter looked really good, so unleash him.
With an offense that is as deep as Andrew Friedman was hoping it would be, Kershaw and Jansen pitching at the top of their games show how good the Dodgers can be on any given night. These two are the best at what they do (starting pitcher and closer, of course), so when they pitch like that, it's all good.
There's a couple of important things for them to do from here on out: keep building on this success, and stay on the field! Heck, that's what every player wants to do, but with the D(L)odgers, it means even more. When they take the ball, the club expects big things from them, just like Friday night.