Clayton Kershaw has been magnificent since returning from the injured list, and his win over the Diamondbacks, 5-2 on Monday night at Dodger Stadium clinched a bye for the Dodgers directly into the National League Division Series.
Kershaw allowed a run on six hits in his six innings against Arizona, striking out ten, including five in a row at one point in the third and fourth innings.
Since returning on September 1 from lower back pain, Kershaw has a 1.50 ERA in 24 innings over four starts, with 29 strikeouts and a 32.2-percent strikeout rate. After an uncharacteristically wild three-walk frame in his first inning back against the Mets, Kershaw has only one walk in 23 innings, including none on Monday.
Monday was Kershaw’s 68th career game with 10 or more strikeouts during the regular season, and 74th counting the postseason. His 27 games with 10 strikeouts and no walks are tied for third-most in MLB history.
The Dodgers now have 102 wins on the season, ensuring they will have a better record than the National League Central-leading Cardinals (87-61), the league division leader with the third-best record. That guarantees at least a top-two seed for Los Angeles, and a bye directly into the National League Division Series, which begins on Tuesday, October 11.
Joey Gallo got the scoring started for the Dodgers with a home run that was officially measured at 437 feet, but the majestic arc on the way to the open spot more than halfway up the right field pavilion meant for a memorable home run call.
Mr. Gallo hits his 18th home run pic.twitter.com/EVe6B92cqf— SportsNet LA (@SportsNetLA) September 20, 2022
Not since “IT HAPPENED!” for Hyun-jin Ryu’s home run in 2019 has Joe Davis had more amazement or outright giddiness in a call.
Gallo also delivered an RBI single in the fifth, the first of four consecutive hits in the inning, beginning with a Max Muncy double and ending with a Chris Taylor drive that bounced off the top of the wall. Initially, Taylor’s hit was called a double, but upon further review was changed to a home run. That four-run inning continued a brutal stretch this season for Merrill Kelly against the Dodgers.
Kelly faced the Dodgers five times this season, and has lost them all. He allowed three runs in three of the games, which is perfectly respectable, but got burned for eight runs on May 17 and five runs on Monday. That makes for a 8.25 ERA and 32 hits in 24 innings, compared to a 2.38 ERA in 25 starts against everyone else.
The Dodgers handed Kelly five of his seven losses this year.
Home runs: Joey Gallo (18), Chris Taylor (10)
WP — Clayton Kershaw (9-3): 6 IP, 6 hits, 1 run, 10 strikeouts
LP — Merrill Kelly (12-7): 6 IP, 8 hits, 5 runs, 2 walks, 7 strikeouts
A split doubleheader is on the docket on Tuesday, with starts at 12:10 p.m. and 7:10 p.m. (both on SportsNet LA). Michael Grove starts the day game for the Dodgers, with Tyler Anderson returning from paternity leave to start the nightcap. Zach Davies starts the opener for Arizona, with Drey Jamison making his second major league start in the nightcap.