The Dodgers ended their five game slide in style Saturday Night with a 5 - 0 victory over the Rockies giving them their 2nd straight Western Division Champion plus home field advantage throughout the National League playoffs.
Clayton Kershaw needed to give the Dodgers a shot in the arm and he provided that shot by striking out the first five Rockies and eight of the first 10. Clayton did his job but the offense was still stymied with zero runs by the time Clayton was lifted after hurling six special shutout innings.
Finally in the 7th inning the worm turned just like we have been saying it would. A rusty Casey Blake finally made contact and drove a Franklin Morales pitch into left center and hustled into 2nd for a double. James Loney then laid down an excellent bunt to move Blake to 3rd and just missed beating it out for a hit. So with one out and Blake on 3rd, Joe Torre used his Joker on the bench and brought up Belliard. For those of you who forgot the last time we saw Belliard we were one inning away from clinching the Division. Belliard had singled in the top of that infamous ninth inning and proceeded to pull a groin. From the time Belliard was replaced by Castro the Dodgers have lost every game that Belliard has not been able to play.
So in a shocking move for many starting second baseman Orlando Hudson was pinch hit for by the Rolly Polly man who right on cue delivered a wicked shot to the right side that scored Casey Blake with the only run the Dodgers would need. It would be the first of five runs to cross the plate in the 7th inning ending the incredible run of the Rockies.
From that point on it was just a matter of the best one two bullpen punch to close out the game and close it out they did in front of 55,000 fans. So after all the hand wringing this week the Dodgers finally did what they needed to do and won the one game their fans had been waiting for and the celebration was on.
Western Division Champions and home field advantage means the Dodgers will be playing the Cardinals on Wednesday with Wolf matching up against Chris Carpenter. Much of the talk will be about the great right handed one two punch of Carpenter/Wainwright but we can counter punch with our left handed duo of Wolf/Kershaw. The Dodgers will not be going into the playoffs unarmed even if some pundits think that is the case.
When Russell Martin stole his 60th career base tonight he broke the franchise record of 59 for a catcher set by the immortal Johhny Roseboro.
BEST OF THE WEST: Los Angeles clinched its second consecutive and 11th overall division title since the advent of divisional play in 1969…The Dodgers won back-to-back NL West titles for the first time since 1977-78.
KKKKKKKKKK-ERSHAW: Clayton Kershaw fanned 10 batters to take over the team lead with 185 strikeouts, six ahead of Chad Billingsley’s 179…It marked fourth time this season and fourth time in Kershaw’s career that he has struck out 10 or more batters in a game.
K/9 UNIT - Kershaw completed the 2009 season with 9.73 strikeouts per 9.0 innings (185 K/171.0 IP) the highest total for a Dodger qualifying pitcher since Hideo Nomo’s 10.11 mark in 1997.
THIS IS MY TOWN: Clayton Kershaw finished with a 1.83 ERA (18 ER/88.1 IP) at home, the lowest home ERA for a qualifying Dodger pitcher since Kevin Brown’s 1.79 ERA (23 ER/115.2 IP) in 2000…Despite his low ERA, Kershaw finished just 3-4 at Dodger Stadium.