The Dodgers, 8-8 and semi-ordinary on the road, have been unstoppable at home so far in 2009, and tonight was no different. The theme of tonight's 1-0 win against the Padres was redemption.
The Starting Pitcher
Going against Jake Peavy, the Dodgers knew runs would be at a premium, even with their well-oiled offensive machine, so they needed Clayton Kershaw to keep them in the game with a good performance. Not only did the Dodgers need some innings from their starting pitcher, after a combined 4.1 innings from their starters the previous two nights, but Kershaw needed a good start too after getting hammered twice on the road.
Boy did Kershaw deliver. He pitched seven scoreless innings, allowing only six baserunners while striking out three. Said Kershaw in a postgame interview on Prime Ticket:
It was just one of those nights where I didn't have great velocity, so I had to focus a little bit more on command tonight, and it probably helped me out in the long run.
I would love to have the "not great velocity" that Kershaw had on this night. MLB Gameday tracked 66 fastballs thrown by Kershaw, and he averaged 93.9 MPH on those fastballs. 42 of those fastballs, or 63.4%, were strikes. On his non-fastballs, 19 of 33 were strikes, or 57.6%. Somehow Kershaw was able to fight through and last a solid seven innings.
Another Dodger looking for redemption was Will Ohman, the lefty specialist brought in to face Adrian Gonzalez for the fourth time in six games against the Padres this season. Gonzalez got the best of Ohman in their first three encounters:
- April 7: Hard lineout to the LF warning track
April 9: Solo home run to start a 3-run winning rally in the 8th inning
- Thursday: RBI double to tie the game in the 7th (Gonzalez would later score to give San Diego a brief lead)
Tonight, Ohman entered to face his nemesis after Ronald Belisario walked and hit a batter. This time, however, Ohman induced a swinging strikeout on an 83-MPH slider to retire Gonzalez. Ohman finished the inning by retiring Chase Headley on a force play to Rafael Furcal.
An interesting side note of Ohman's appearance was that it might have been a situation intended for Hong Chih-Kuo. However, while warming up in the bottom of the seventh inning, Kuo threw two balls onto the field from the bullpen. The Dodgers wisely decided to sit Kuo down shortly after that bout of uber-wildness.
The eight innings of scoreless pitching provided by Kershaw and Ohman were only good enough to match Peavy, who was his usual brilliant self. Peavy allowed three baserunners in eight innings while striking out eight Dodgers.
After Jonathan Broxton preserved the scoreless tie with a perfect ninth -- he has struck out 21 of the 44 batters he faced this season -- the Dodgers were relieved to see anybody but Peavy on the mound in the bottom of the inning.
Against Duaner Sanchez, the Dodgers found themselves in a bases loaded situation with two outs, when the struggling Russell Martin stepped to the plate.
Martin was retired in his first three plate appearances of the night -- including one hard-hit ball off Peavy -- to lower his seasonal numbers to the nadir of .198/.293/.247. Mired in an 0-16 and 4-32 slump, Martin worked a full count, then unleashed a little dribbler down the 3rd base line. Kevin Kouzmanoff, knowing he didn't have a play at either home plate or first base, let the ball roll and it veered foul just before reaching third base, much to the dismay of Larry Bowa, who kicked the ball in disgust.
Martin took the next pitch, a 91-MPH fastball from Sanchez, as it sailed high, giving Martin the walk and the Dodgers the win. It may not be much, but for Martin, it's a start.
The Dodgers improved their home record to 8-0, one win off the club record to start a season. Tomorrow night, Randy Wolf hopes to tie the 1946 Brooklyn Dodgers as the Dodgers take on Tall Chris Young. The Dodgers better bring their running shoes.
Winner: Jonathan Broxton (3-0)
Loser: Duaner Sanchez (1-1)