There is a point in The Matrix, right after Joey Pants has gone rogue and starts killing off the ancillary members of Cowboy Curtis's rebel crew, when said members start to realize their fate. One by one they are unplugged, and Switch has a look of terrorized acceptance in her eyes as she says, "No, not like this. Not like this."
That's what Wednesday night at Dodger Stadium felt like, when Clayton Kershaw was not Neo, but rather just plain old Mr. Anderson as the Dodgers got swept away by the Padres 7-2.
Kershaw began the game in fine style. He picked up his 1,000th career strikeout in the second inning, and retired the first eight batters he faced. But it all went downhill from there.
Everth Cabrera homered to lead off the fourth inning, not only snapping a 23-inning scoreless streak by Kershaw at Dodger Stadium but also was the first extra-base hit allowed by Kershaw this season. After Nick Punto dropped a foul pop by Chase Headley, Kershaw put the next three men on base, then a double play and a single cashed in two more runs in the inning.
Chris Denorfia followed with a solo home run in the fifth inning, then Kyle Blanks did the same in the sixth, though the latter was a laser that ricocheted off the clock on the base of the loge section in left field. The three home runs allowed on the night matched a career high for Kershaw, also set last May 2 at Coors Field.
Nick Hundley followed with a single, the 11th of 18 batters to reach base against Kershaw after he retired the first eight. That was it for Kershaw, who needed 109 pitches for his season low 5⅓ innings.
The Dodgers' best chance at making a game of it came in the fifth inning when they loaded the bases with two outs for Skip Schumaker, who started in center field in place of the slumping Matt Kemp on Wednesday night. But Schumaker, who has a career .304 batting average and .359 on-base percentage against right-handers, grounded out meekly to righty reliever Brad Brach to end the threat.
The bases were loaded again for Schumaker in the seventh inning, but this time down 6-1 and with only one out. They were loaded because A.J. Ellis hit a ball to the wall in right center field that somehow managed to drop and not score Mark Ellis from second base. Seven of the Dodgers' 22 hits with runners in scoring position this year (the 22 is next to last in the National League) have failed to plate a run.
In this situation, manager Don Mattingly chose to use Kemp against the right-handed Dale Thayer, and Kemp worked a 3-0 count. But emblematic of the way this season has gone so far for Kemp, he took the next two for strikes then struck out swinging.
Kemp batted again with the bases loaded in the ninth inning, and flew out to left field to score a run. But that only got the Dodgers to within five.
The Dodgers are 1-for-19 this season with the bases loaded.
The Dodgers will absolutely not lose on Thursday, as they have an off day before beginning a weekend series in Baltimore against the Orioles. Hyun-jin Ryu starts the series opener for the Dodgers, facing Jason Hammel for Baltimore.
Home runs: Everth Cabrera (2), Chris Denorfia (1), Kyle Blanks (1)
WP - Brad Brach (1-0): 1⅓ IP, 1 walk
LP - Clayton Kershaw (2-2): 5⅓ IP, 7 hits, 5 runs (3 earned), 4 walks, 5 strikeouts