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Clayton Kershaw delivers again, Dodgers score off Angels bullpen to snap skid

Clayton Kershaw tossing seven scoreless for the win

MLB: Los Angeles Dodgers at Los Angeles Angels Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports

Behind another superb outing from their ace, Clayton Kershaw, the Dodgers waited out the Angels bullpen to score a couple of late runs, which were enough to secure a 2-0 win Tuesday night at Angel Stadium in Anaheim.

In recent weeks, we’ve been accustomed to seeing Kershaw having to go out there to pick up a taxed bullpen, but this time around, it was about giving the offense enough time, as Reid Detmers matched Kershaw zero for zero, with both starters tossing seven scoreless.

The Dodgers’ rotation is in a bit of a dire spot, and that’s no secret. Between injuries, and struggles, the regression has been significant from the league-leading numbers of last season, and it’s daunting to imagine where this team would be without the efforts of Kershaw.

Once more, facing the Angels in a game where the bullpen was rested, but the offense provided quite literally no support while he was out there, Kershaw kept the Dodgers in the game, holding the Angels scoreless through seven. The veteran would ultimately earn the win, but only through two runs in the eighth, when his night was already done.

The elite results are even further appreciated when you acknowledge that Kershaw wasn’t even his sharpest self tonight, particularly with a fastball that only earned four called strikes, and a single whiff on 19 swings.

To further highlight Kershaw’s significance to the Dodgers in this 2023 season, we jump ahead to the seventh inning, where he faced a scenario in which very likely in previous seasons, Dave Roberts would have gone to the bullpen.

Entering the seventh, Kershaw allowed the first two hitters to reach base, on a single and double, setting up runners at second and third, in a scoreless ballgame against the bottom of the Angels order.

Kershaw then got Kevin Padlo on a hard grounder, in which the runners stayed put, and then struck out Chad Wallach on a long at-bat. One hitter away from leaving the inning unscathed, Kershaw walked Luis Rengifo, and loaded the bases with a pitch count above 100.

In many other times, one could easily see Roberts turning to the bullpen on that occasion, as the Dodgers have made an effort to limit Kershaw a bit more in recent seasons, but with his pitch count over 100 for the first time since April 18, and a shortage of reliable bullpen arms, Roberts stuck with the Hall-of-Famer, who on the first pitch got a grounder to short to end the threat.

Facing his idol, Detmers matches Kershaw for one night

Pitchers will tend to downplay the idea of facing the opposing starter, instead focusing on the hitters they’re set to go up against, but one can’t help, but feel a few goosebumps when going against a future first-ballot Hall-of-Famer. Now, how about going up against your idol?

Detmers had that privilege on this Tuesday opener, going up against Kershaw, the southpaw starter he looked up to, in his trajectory to the bigs, and at least for the night, the Angels’ starter was Kershaw-esque, absolutely stifling Dodger hitters for seven scoreless.

Allowing only four hard-hit balls on the night, Detmers matched his counterpart, inning for inning, of zeros on the board, finishing his outing with only three baserunners, on two hits and a walk, while striking out eight.

Throughout the seven innings Detmers pitched, the Dodgers only had a couple of at-bats with a runner in scoring position, unable to capitalize each time.

After the starters duel, Angels bullpen blinks first

With Detmers leaving the game, the Angels turned to Chris Devenski to begin the eighth, and the bottom of the Dodgers lineup wasted no time getting the visiting team on the board.

James Outman flew out to start the frame, and then Miguel Rojas came in and hit a ringing double down the left-field line, setting up the opportunity for Michael Busch to hit a go-ahead single for the first run of the game.

As Freddie Freeman got Busch into scoring position with a single of his own, it was Will Smith’s turn to up the lead to 2-0, and that would be all that the Dodgers would need to take this one and stop the losing streak at three games.

Defensive play of the game

Back in the fourth inning, the Angels had an opportunity to take the lead in this game. Kershaw began the frame by getting both Mike Trout and Shohei Ohtani, but after Brandon Drury hit a curve for a two-out single, Hunter Renfroe came up with a runner on.

Renfroe hit a double off the left-field wall, which Outman played well, but with two outs, and not necessarily their best hitters coming up, the third-base coach decided to send Drury, and an on-the-money throw probably would have meant he was toast, but Rojas wasn’t quite so accurate, as it sailed a bit to the first base side.

Smith made probably the play of the game by making a terrific pick and tagging the runner right on the head all in one swift motion just in time for the out.

The runner was initially called safe, but after a Dodgers challenge, the play was overturned, thus ending the frame, with the game at 0-0, instead of 1-0 with a runner in scoring position.

Tuesday particulars

Home runs: None

WP — Clayton Kershaw (9-4): 7 IP, 5 hits, 2 walks, 5 strikeouts

LP — Chris Devenski (3-2): 1 IP, 4 hits, 2 runs

SV — Evan Phillips (8) 1 IP, 2 strikeouts

Up next

A tough challenge is on the horizon with the Dodgers going up against Angels’ ace Shohei Ohtani on Wednesday night with a slightly earlier start time (6:38 p.m.; SportsNet LA, Bally Sports West, MLB Network). Although not yet officially announced, Michael Grove is the expected starter for the Dodgers.