Clayton Kershaw was as sharp as he’s been all year, stifling the Giants en route to a 6-1 win that allowed the Dodgers to avoid a sweep in San Francisco and snap a three-game losing streak.
Kershaw allowed only three singles in seven innings, and kept the Giants off the scoreboard, his ninth career scoreless start against them and seventh in San Francisco.
He struck out five and walked none for his seventh win of the season, and third straight.
Struggling is a relative term, and Kershaw entered Wednesday with a 2.43 ERA. But for Kershaw, that counts as having a rough time. But very specifically, he was having a slider problem, in that it wasn’t very effective.
It was mentioned after a few starts that Kershaw’s slider didn’t have its usual bite or late life, and Chad Moriyama wrote a few weeks back at Dodgers Digest about how Kershaw was throwing his slider at a higher velocity than normal. After his Friday start at Coors Field, Ben Lindbergh at The Ringer noticed that Kershaw was getting that slider back down to normal levels — mid to high 80s rather than ~90 mph — in his last few innings against the Rockies.
That trend continued on Wednesday, with Kershaw in between 84-89 mph most of the day with his slider, including finishing off three strikeouts with the pitch.
Kershaw’s ERA now is 2.15.
Yasmani Grandal plated two runs in the first inning by going down and liberating a slider in the dirt and somehow hitting a line drive off the brick wall in right field. It was the 10th double of the season for Grandal, who has an extra-base hit in seven of his last nine games.
One of those games without an extra-base hit for Grandal in the last week and a half was Tuesday night, when he was only used for one plate appearance, as a pinch-hitter. Grandal has 16 hits in his last 32 at-bats, and has driven in 13 runs in 12 games in May.
After Grandal’s double in the first, Johnny Cueto exchanged some words with him when Grandal was on second base. When Grandal batted in the third inning, again with runners on second and third base, Cueto’s first pitch was up and in, but instead of serving a purpose it was too high for Buster Posey to corral, getting away for a wild pitch and a third Dodgers run.
Grandal flew out to end the inning, and he and Cueto continued chirping at each other. That led to both benches emptying, though nobody’s heart was truly in it. The incident did provide a fun moment, with Kershaw purposefully walking right through the middle of the faux skirmish to begin his warmup tosses on the mound.
Man who does not care about the benches clearing: pic.twitter.com/42N6zEg55l— Alex Pavlovic (@PavlovicNBCS) May 17, 2017
The Dodgers tacked on runs as the game went on, with Yasiel Puig hitting a two-run single in the sixth inning, and Cody Bellinger adding an RBI double in the seventh, for Bellinger his second double of the game.
With four doubles on Wednesday, the Dodgers hit 22 doubles during their seven-game road trip. On the season, the Dodgers at the moment lead the majors with 86 doubles, though the Nationals (83 doubles) and Brewers (81) both play later tonight.
The Dodgers return to Los Angeles to start a 10-game homestand, beginning with a four-game weekend series against the Marlins. In the opener on Thursday night, Hyun-jin Ryu starts for the Dodgers against Edinson Volquez for Miami.
Home runs: Eduardo Nunez (1)
WP - Clayton Kershaw (7-2): 7 IP, 3 hits, 5 strikeouts
LP - Johnny Cueto (4-3): 6 IP, 8 hits, 5 runs, 1 walk, 6 strikeouts