Adrian Gonzalez hit a two-run single in the ninth inning, pulling the rug over Mets closer Jeurys Familia's eyes and helping erase a questionable decision made by manager Dave Roberts in a 4-2 win by the Dodgers on Sunday night at Citi Field in New York.
That the game was tied in the ninth inning was a result of a curious choice by Roberts in the bottom of the eighth. Four outs away from victory, Roberts chose his third-best option then watched the lead evaporate. The Dodgers led 2-1 with a runner on first base and two outs, with the left-handed Curtis Granderson up. The facts were these:
- Kershaw was still in the game, and had thrown 114 pitches, two shy of his season high. He throws left-handed.
- Granderson was a career .223/.295/.398 hitter against lefties entering Sunday, including .180/.241/.360 this season. He did double against Kershaw in the first inning.
- Kenley Jansen hadn't pitched since Wednesday, and is clearly the Dodgers second-best pitcher besides Kershaw, with third place too far away to even see. Left-handed batters against Jansen his year are hitting .156/.156/.219 (5-for-32), with 11 strikeouts and no walks.
- Adam Liberatore held lefties to just 3-for-28 with two doubles and two walks this season (.107/.188/.179), but with only five strikeouts. Again, Jansen has 11.
Kershaw was clearly tiring, and in a relative sense was diminished, but compared to Kershaw, not necessarily the rest of baseball. Roberts made the choice to pull Kershaw, which would have been more defensible had he just picked Jansen for a four-out save.
But instead, Roberts decided against using his two best pitchers, and Granderson promptly tripled to the right field wall, just over the head of a leaping Yasiel Puig, to tie the game.
Liberatore did get the final out of the eighth, and ended up getting the win, thanks to another rally against Familia. Two nights after scoring four runs off Familia to tie the game in the ninth inning, the Dodgers loaded the bases with one out against Familia on Sunday, setting the stage for Gonzalez, who lined a ball through the middle for a two-run single.
The Dodgers scored six runs in the series against Familia, both in non-save situations.
Gonzalez drove in three runs on the night with his two hits, part of a productive top of the order for the Dodgers.
Chase Utley and Corey Seager singled with one out in the third inning, then a force play ground ball by Justin Turner was enough for the first run. In the fifth, consecutive two-out singles by Seager, Turner and Gonzalez brought home another run. Seager, Turner and Gonzalez each reached base three times on Sunday night.
Kershaw had to settle for the no-decision but still ended one of his finest months strong. He struck out 10 in 7⅔ innings, allowing just four hits with no walks. He allowed two runs on the night, giving him a whopping five runs allowed in six starts in May for a 0.96 ERA during the month.
Asdrubal Cabrera hit a solo home run to left field in the sixth inning to pull the Mets within 2-1, the first home run allowed by Kershaw in May, and his first since Giancarlo Stanton got him on Apr. 26. There was a span of 168 batters in between dingers allowed by Kershaw.
Kershaw ended his May with 65 strikeouts and two walks, the most strikeouts by any pitcher in a month with 0-2 walks.
Kershaw got his 49th career game with double-digit strikeouts, and his seventh in his last eight starts.
It was the 10th start for Kershaw with double-digit strikeouts and no walks since the start of 2015, twice as many as anyone else in baseball during that span.
Jansen did end up making an appearance on Sunday, retiring the Mets in order in the ninth or his 15th save. Good things come when elite pitchers are used, it seems.
Alex Wood was pushed back three days with left triceps soreness, and will start Monday's opener in Chicago on eight days rest. The Cubs will counter with Jason Hammel in the first of four games at Wrigley Field, a 2:05 p.m. PT start on Memorial Day.
Home run: Asdrubal Cabrera (4)
WP - Adam Liberatore (1-0): ⅓ IP, 1 hit, 1 strikeout
LP - Jeurys Famiilia (2-1): 1 IP, 2 hits, 2 runs, 2 walks
SV - Kenley Jansen (15): 1 IP, 1 strikeout