Clayton Kershaw shuts out the San Francisco Giants as Dodgers move into first place

first_imgSAN FRANCISCO >> Dodgers catcher A.J. Ellis often says when Clayton Kershaw starts, he and the fans are seeing “something historic.” Sometimes that’s obvious, like when Kershaw no-hit the Colorado Rockies in June.Other times, like Saturday, Kershaw is more mechanical than awe-inspiring. Gregor Blanco singled in the first inning and the Giants didn’t get another hit until the seventh inning of a 5-0 Dodgers win. Kershaw (12-2) needed 113 pitches to complete the two-hit shutout. Most major-league pitchers will go their entire careers without throwing a two-hit shutout. For Kershaw, who lowered his major league-leading earned run average to 1.76, it wasn’t even his best start of the season. So what exactly are we witnessing? Newsroom GuidelinesNews TipsContact UsReport an Error “They tried to be patient. They tried to be aggressive,” Ellis said. “As a hitter you can’t really game-plan for him.”Whether it was by design or by happenstance — Kershaw thought it’s the latter — having the Dodgers’ top three starters pitch this three-game series in San Francisco already is paying off. Zack Greinke threw seven scoreless innings Friday. Hyun-Jin Ryu starts today against Jake Peavy, who arrived in the middle of the game after being traded from Boston earlier in the day.The Dodgers’ lineup hasn’t been the same consistent force as its pitching staff, but it also has gained steam in San Francisco. They have 26 hits in the first two games. Facing right-hander Ryan Vogelsong (5-8), they couldn’t match their franchise-record tying five triples of a day ago, but the Dodgers may have found a combination they can roll with.For the second day in a row, Yasiel Puig batted second and played center field and Matt Kemp played right field and batted sixth. Adrian Gonzalez went 3 for 5 with two doubles, Hanley Ramirez went 2 for 4 with a double and Juan Uribe went 2 for 4 with a double and two RBIs. Blanco was the only baserunner for either team over the first three innings, and he was erased on a double-play groundout by Buster Posey.The Dodgers scored single runs in the fourth and fifth innings, then chased Vogelsong after scoring two more runs in the sixth. They almost scored a third, but Posey swipe-tagged Gonzalez on the forearm on a close play at the plate.Gonzalez is batting .333 (10 for 30) in eight games since the All-Star break. He’s reached base in every game.“I’m a very streaky hitter,” Gonzalez said. “That’s usually how my seasons go — lots of ups and downs.”The Dodgers are not a streaky team. They have not won or lost more than three games in a row this season. But something’s changed since the last time they played the Giants in May, when they lost three of four games at Dodger Stadium. Specifically, they’re a bit healthier — Ellis and Uribe are back in the lineup — and their outfield seems a bit more stable.That they have found normalcy against their historic rivals, amid trade rumors and a battle for first place, could be a giant coincidence.center_img “It’s just the consistency, the ability to put up numbers without too many hiccups,” Ellis said. “His clunkers are like in St. Louis: Seven innings, three runs — and they’re the defending National League champions.”The Giants, although depleted by injuries, were the best team in the National League West until the final out Saturday. Then the teams flipped places, with the Dodgers (58-47) taking a half-game lead over the Giants (57-47) and moving back into first place after a 13-game hiatus.Calmly as ever, Kershaw credited his teammates for scoring the runs that allowed him to win his ninth consecutive decision. Then he responded, in his own way, to a question about his efficiency.“That team puts the ball in play,” Kershaw said of the Giants. “Not striking out a lot. A lot of good at-bats over there, so really just trying to attack them and get it done early.”Kershaw struck out seven, which actually is quite a few. Another eight outs were recorded on fly balls to the outfield. The rest were harmless ground balls or infield pop-ups. Whether the Giants swung early in the at-bats or late, the outcome was practically inevitable.last_img

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *