The faithful at Dodger Stadium on Wednesday night were treated to a vintage Clayton Kershaw performance. He confounded the Diamondbacks with fastballs and sliders, throwing two thirds of his pitches for strikes, and didn't allow a run in the Dodgers' 3-2 victory, preventing a sweep. Unfortunately for the fans, however, Kershaw was only around for five innings.
Kershaw allowed just one hit in his five innings, and that hit was by new villain du jour Gerardo Parra. When Parra led off the top of the sixth inning, Kershaw hit Parra on the elbow with his second pitch, and was immediately ejected by home plate umpire Bill Welke.
Umpires aren't required to issue a warning before ejecting a pitcher, as Rule 8.02(d) gives umpires discretion, but Welke did have a quick trigger finger. Kershaw didn't throw at Parra's head; it was just your standard "stick up for your teammate" plunking that could be reasonably be embellished into "throwing inside" during postgame interviews. But then again, maybe Kershaw shouldn't have yelled across to the Arizona dugout on Tuesday night, essentially announcing to the world his intentions (hat tip to Chad Moriyama):
The sparse crowd at Dodger Stadium grew feisty after the ejection, and it boiled into anger rather quickly, perhaps spurred on by manager Don Mattingly being as mad as he has ever been while arguing with Welke. Mattingly embraced his inner Lou Piniella in his heated discussions with Welke and the umpiring crew, and was ejected himself.
The crowd grew so surly that it cheered, loudly, when Welke was hit by a foul tip in the top of the sixth inning. "It's the most life we've had at the ballpark in quite a while," said Vin Scully during the broadcast on Prime Ticket.
In his five innings, Kershaw allowed one hit and no runs, and picked up his 19th victory, tying him with Ian Kennedy for the National League lead. Kershaw struck out five, expanding his league leading total to 236, just two behind Justin Verlander for the major league lead. Kershaw's ERA is now 2.305, the best in the major leagues, just ahead of Johnny Cueto, who is at 2.308 but has a strained right lat and could fall six innings short of qualifying.
Josh Lindblom came in and matched Kershaw, allowing just one hit while striking out five, only it took Lindblom just two innings.
Arizona scored one run off Nathan Eovaldi in the eighth inning, and Parra came within a few feet of tying the game with a flyout to the right field wall. The Dodgers added an insurance run in bottom of the inning, before Kenley Jansen pitched the ninth. Jansen allowed a run on two hits, but also struck out three and picked up his fourth save of the season.
A Tale Of Two Pitchers
Kershaw's start Wednesday night was the 114th of his career, which is a perfect time to look at his career in two halves. You see, Kershaw's 57th start of his career came on May 4, 2010, when he got shellacked by the Milwaukee Brewers at Dodger Stadium, allowing seven runs while recording just four outs. After that game, Kershaw was 1-2 with a 4.99 ERA through six starts, with 24 walks in 30 2/3 innings. Since then, however, he has been simply great.
|Clayton Kershaw's Career, Split In Two|
The Dodgers open a four-game series with the Pittsburgh Pirates on Thursday night. Dana Eveland starts the opener for the Dodgers, against Ross Ohlendorf for the Pirates. Pittsburgh has lost 33 of its last 46 games.
WP - Clayton Kershaw (19-5): 5 IP, 1 hit, 5 strikeouts
LP - Daniel Hudson (16-10): 7 IP, 5 hits, 3 runs, 2 walks, 4 strikeouts
Sv - Kenley Jansen (4): 1 IP, 2 hits, 1 run, 3 strikeouts