Wearing No. 21 on the back of his cap (as a former Roberto Clemente Award winner), No. 22 passed No. 20 to become the all-time Dodgers strikeout leader on Saturday. But after a Clayton Kershaw milestone, the Tigers feasted off the Dodgers bullpen for a 5-1 win on Saturday night at Dodger Stadium.
Carrying 10 or 11 pitchers in the bullpen so far this season, the Dodgers haven’t had to use many relievers on back-to-back days. But they used three pitchers on Saturday who pitched on Friday, and all of them allowed a run-scoring hit.
Evan Phillips was the first to relieve Kershaw, starting the seventh. He allowed a single and hit a batter, then surrendered a double to Javy Báez that broke a 1-1 tie. Brusdar Graterol walked his idol, fellow Venezuelan Miguel Cabrera, to load the bases. before Austin Meadows singled home two.
In the eighth inning, Reyes Moronta allowed an infield single to Jeimer Candelario, who scored on Tucker Barnhart’s RBI double.
Saturday represented a rare misstep for the Dodgers bullpen, whose four runs allowed are the most this season. The Dodgers pitching staff as a whole has allowed four or more runs only four times in 20 games this season.
Even with this game, the Dodgers bullpen has a 2.55 ERA, the third-best ERA in the majors, and 27.9-percent strikeout rate on the season, which ranks fifth-best.
The team with the best bullpen ERA in MLB right now? That’s the Tigers, at 2.02, including four scoreless inning to close out this win.
The record setter
Kershaw retired his first eight batters, and his strikeout of Dustin Garneau equaled Don Sutton with 2,696 career strikeouts. The path to the record got a little choppy after that, with four of the next five batters reaching base. Javy Báez singled home a run in the third, one of three two-strike hits for the Tigers against Kershaw.
Spencer Torkelson, the No. 1 overall pick in the 2020 draft, provided the answer to a Dodgers trivia question, going down swinging on a slider to give Kershaw sole possession of the franchise strikeout record.
Kershaw only allowed four hits on the night, in six innings. Kershaw also walked two batters, his first two free passes of the season, and struck out seven, giving him 2,700 strikeouts in his career.
Saturday was the 380th regular season start for Kershaw. His mound opponent, Tigers right-hander Beau Brieske, was making just his second career start, but mostly held his own. Brieske only allowed one run, despite missing only three bats among his 90 pitches.
Brieske allowed three hits and two walks, but after a Mookie Betts home run to lead off the first, nobody else scored. Twenty-five times the Dodgers fouled off one of Brieske’s pitches, including 10 by Justin Turner in his fourth-inning at-bat. That was a 14-pitch battle that ended with Turner flying out to center.
More Dodgers patience was on display when Cody Bellinger greeted reliever Joe Jiménez with a 12-pitch walk to open the seventh, a battle that included eight foul balls. Gavin Lux added a one-out single to give the Dodgers their best rally of the night, but Michael Fulmer got Austin Barnes to ground into a double play.
One run matches the Dodgers’ lowest offensive output this season, and four hits is their second-worst game of 2022.
Home run: Mookie Betts (3)
WP — Jacob Barnes (2-0): 1 IP, zeroes
LP — Evan Phillips (1-1): ⅔ IP, 2 hits, 3 runs, 2 strikeouts
Walker Buehler takes the mound on Sunday (1:10 p.m., SportsNet LA), with an extra day of rest after pitching his first career shutout on Monday in Phoenix. Left-hander Eduardo Rodriguez starts the series finale for Detroit.