What a difference a week makes. After the Dodgers swept the Giants last weekend in San Francisco, the rivals returned the favor by winning Friday, Saturday, and Sunday this weekend at Dodger Stadium, including 5-4 in the series finale. Sunday was Clayton Kershaw’s 50th career start against the Giants, and was memorable for everything it wasn’t.
Fifty starts is a lot against any opponent, the most Kershaw has battled any foe. He’s only the 33rd pitcher since 1901 to make 50 starts against the Giants. Only five of the others pitched in the last 50 years.
Even with the drubbing on Sunday, matching the most runs Kershaw has allowed in a game to the Giants, he still owns the best career ERA against them (1.89) by anyone with at least 10 starts.
Which is why Sunday’s game was notable.
Singles by the first two batters in the top of the first gave this game a feel similar to Saturday, when San Francisco tallied 11 hits and seven runs against Julio Urías. After a wild pitch advanced both into scoring position, Kershaw got a strikeout and ground out, the latter allowing a run to score. But his first pitch to Mauricio Dubón — who over the last two weekends started at second base, third base, center field, and shortstop against the Dodgers — was tattooed high off the left field foul pole, with was notable for a few reasons.
Dubón’s shot was the 23rd home run hit by the Giants against Kershaw, and to date the only one hit with a runner in scoring position. It was only the fifth two-run homer Kershaw has allowed to the Giants.
The dinger also gave San Francisco three runs in an inning for only the fourth time in 365 innings Kershaw has started against them. The last such game was September 13, 2013, when four straight singles were punctuated by run-scoring hits from Joaquin Arias and Brett Pill.
All four of those three-run innings were at Dodger Stadium.
“I kind of put the team in tough spot in the first, and wasn’t able to make up for it,” Kershaw said.
The person who runs the “Guy Who Yells Slater” Twitter account (not to be confused with the similar but also excellent account about the band Slayer) had reason to shout in the third, when Austin Slater hit a solo homer. Sunday is just the fourth time the Giants have hit multiple home runs in a game against Kershaw.
A bunt single and a walk to start the fourth but the Giants in business again, though Kershaw responded by getting the next two outs. But Kevin Gausman spoiled the rally-killing plans with a single to left field for another run, the first hit by a pitcher against Kershaw in 17 plate appearances this year.
Kershaw also walked a season-high three on Sunday, a total he’s only surpassed in two of his other 49 starts against San Francisco, and not since 2010.
But while Kershaw’s day was a problem — he and Urías are the first Dodgers starters to allowing more than three runs in consecutive games since the first two games of the season, in Colorado — he was hardly alone.
Gausman, when he wasn’t a pest at home plate, was a beast on the mound, holding the Dodgers to just two hits in six scoreless innings, a second-inning double by Gavin Lux and fourth-inning single from Matt Beaty. Gausman, who struck out seven, retired his final nine batters faced. He might have extended that even further, having only thrown 72 pitches, but he was removed for precautionary reasons with left hip tightness.
Gausman’s ERA is 1.40. That’s not a typo.
The Dodgers were four outs away from getting shut out for the first time since September 14, 2019. But Max Muncy’s two-run home run off Zack Littell put the Dodgers on the scoreboard for the 125th game in a row, the longest scoring streak in franchise history.
Muncy has five home runs in six starts against the Giants, all in the last nine days.
The home run was the 100th of Muncy’s career. That includes 95 since joining the Dodgers in April 2018, tied for sixth-most in the majors since his call-up to Los Angeles, behind Eugenio Suarez (108), Mike Trout (103), Nelson Cruz (101), Nolan Arenado (97), and Ronald Acuña Jr. (96).
Muncy also was able to retrieve his 100th home run ball, thanks to a fan.
“All the guy wanted was an autograph, so I gladly did that for him. It was awesome I was able to get the ball back. It definitely puts a big smile on my face,” Muncy said. “So to whoever that was, thank you very much.”
Albert Pujols continued his extra-base romp through the weekend with a two-run home run of his own in the ninth, number 670 in his career. That pulled the Dodgers to within a run, but the comeback was not to be, with old friend Jake McGee getting the next two outs to finish off the game.
Home runs: Max Muncy (13), Albert Pujols (8); Mauricio Dubón (3), Andrew Slater (7)
WP — Kevin Gausman (6-0): 6 IP, 2 hits, 7 strikeouts
LP — Clayton Kershaw (7-4): 6 IP, 7 hits, 5 runs, 3 walks, 6 strikeouts
Sv — Jake McGee (12): 1 IP, 1 hits, 2 runs (1 earned), 2 strikeouts
After the bullpen game Thursday was the Dodgers’ only win in this series, it’s Trevor Bauer’s turn to play stopper on Monday against the Cardinals (an earlier start than usual — 6:10 p.m. — thanks to Memorial Day). Jack Flaherty starts the series opener for St. Louis.