Clayton Kershaw was masterful Saturday night at AT&T Park, hurling a complete-game shutout, allowing only two singles, as the Los Angeles Dodgers soundly defeated the San Francisco Giants, 5-0, in the second consecutive dominating win of the three-game series. Adrian Gonzalez had three hits, including two doubles, to lead the LA attack.
Watching Clayton Kershaw and Ryan Vogelsong each face the minimum number of batters over the first three innings, took me all the way back to last Wednesday night, and A.J. Burnett doing battle with Madison Bumgarner, each tossing eight innings of shutout ball, before turning matters over to the bullpen. Things changed in the fourth inning.
Because of the early starting time of the game, the sun was a huge factor in the early going. Hunter Pence made two consecutive fine defensive plays to record the first two outs of the third inning, the first a running snag in foul territory, battling the sun, the wind, the bullpen mound and the wall. The second play required that Pence go the opposite way, deep into Triples Alley to haul down a shot off the bat of A.J. Ellis.
However, when you live by the sword you die by the sword; with two outs, one inning later, Adrian Gonzalez ripped one on a line directly at Pence, and he never saw it with the sun blinding him, even though he was wearing shades. The ball bounded past him for a double and Gonzalez would score when the next batter, Hanley Ramirez, blooped a single into left, even though Ramirez was thrown out trying to get to second, at the same time Gonzalez was crossing the plate. Unfortunately, the run scored and the Dodgers took a 1-0 lead.
The Dodgers left nothing vague the very next inning, the fifth, when the first three batters all singled, Carl Crawford scoring on the third single by Juan Uribe. Then, with two outs, Dee Gordon launched a rocket into Triples Alley, that Pence once more ran down, this time without being blinded by the sun, which had made its departure minutes earlier.
In the sixth and seventh, the Dodgers sent a total of fifteen men to the plate and it’s a miracle that only three runs scored. Three singles, three doubles, two walks and an error could have been worse than the score of 5-0 indicated.
After Vogelsong left at the end of six, Jean Machi pitched the seventh, giving up the fifth and final run. Yusmeiro Petit pithed the eighth and ninth for the Giants, retiring all six batters he faced.
In an uninspiring loss, there were a couple of bright spots, the strong defense by Pence being one, and the confining of Dee Gordon and Yasiel Puig to a single apiece, another. After striking out to lead off the game, Gordon hit a smash to Dan Uggla at second base who gloved it and threw him out and there was the catch by Pence in Triples Alley to close out the fifth inning. He did manage a single to lead off the seventh. Puig was limited to an infield single on the night.
I found Kershaw’s at-bat in the sixth inning to be a case of the shoe on the other foot, with the Dodgers having just scored two, the bases being loaded, and Kershaw being such an exceptional hitter. After seeing the success our own Madison Bumgarner has had at the plate this season (3 HR-12 RBI’s), I felt it might just be the opposing pitcher’s turn to wreak some havoc, but Vogelsong worked him to a full-count before striking him out on a slightly elevated fastball.
It just boils down to baseball being baseball. Earlier in the season the Giants were so hot that they were reeling off victories right and left and keeping the Dodgers at bay. Now it is the reverse. The Giants were hot; now the Dodgers are hot.
With a spate of Giants going down with injuries, Giants fans have just got to ride it out and figure that San Francisco has got to do some sorting and classifying of their new personnel, and regroup.
With newcomer Jake Peavy in town and due to start Sunday’s finale on national television, it’s a new day. Let’s see how that turns out before we pull the plug.