For a hopeless team in a lost season, the Dodger Stadium crowd was electric in the ninth inning, as the Dodgers snagged a victory from the jaws of defeat, salvaging a win against the Angels, 3-2. Tony Gwynn Jr., who drove in the tying run with a triple in the seventh inning, delivered the winning blow with a single to right field, scoring Trent Oeltjen and snapping the Dodgers' six-game home losing streak against the Angels.
Today's game was billed as a pitching duel of the highest order, and Clayton Kershaw and Jered Weaver did not disappoint, both pitching gems. But it looked bleak for Kershaw and the Dodgers in the top of the ninth inning after Vernon Wells tattooed a slider into the left field seats with two outs to give the Angels a 2-1 lead. However, walks by Juan Uribe and Dioner Navarro to start the ninth inning provided hope, as did Dee Gordon's legs and hands.
Gordon pinch ran for Uribe, and promptly stole second base, though replays indicated Gordon may have been out as he appeared to be off the bag (over it) after initially touching second base. After a sacrifice put runners on second and third base with one out, Aaron Miles lofted a fly ball to short center field, and Gordon tagged up from third base. Peter Bourjos made an outstanding throw home and Jeff Mathis initially had the plate blocked, only in the opinion of home plate umpire Tom Hallion, Mathis never tagged Gordon.
This play was remarkably close, and difficult to tell one way or another, and whether or not you think Gordon was safe may depend on your rooting interest. That said, it looked to me like Gordon's hand touched home plate before Mathis tagged him, but at the very least it was a poor finish by Mathis to an otherwise great play.
However, the story of the game was Kershaw, who was magnificent yet again. Consider...
- He struck out 11 batters for the second straight start. The last Dodger to strike out double digits in consecutive starts was Chan Ho Park in September 2000. Park struck out 13 in both games.
- Kershaw pitched his second straight complete game, the first Dodger to throw back-to-back complete games since Jered's brother Jeff Weaver in 2005.
- Kershaw now leads the majors in strikeouts with 128.
Kershaw didn't just excel on the mound today, but in the field as well. He allowed a leadoff ground-rule double to Jeff Mathis in the top of the sixth inning, but quickly erased him thanks to some fine glovework. Weaver tried to lay down a sacrifice bunt, but the ball hung up in the air long enough for Kershaw to snag it, then immediately turn toward second base, against his momentum, to double off Mathis.
Kershaw also came through at the plate with a two-out single in the seventh inning, and scored on the triple by Gwynn. All in all, it was a great overall game by the Dodgers' ace, who started and ended the Dodgers' week with gems.
The Dodgers are en route to Minnesota tonight, and start a three-game series with the Twins Monday night.
WP - Clayton Kershaw (8-3): 9 IP, 6 hits, 2 runs, 11 strikeouts
LP - Jordan Walden (1-2): 2/3 IP, 1 hit, 2 runs, 2 walks