About damn time. The Dodgers defeated the Giants 8-0 on Tuesday night behind Clayton Kershaw and three home runs to clinch the National League Western Division title. The win also snapped a 4-game losing streak, so now people can stop panicking.
Believe it or not, this is the first time in franchise history the Dodgers have won their division three consecutive years.
Things got started in the first as Enrique Hernandez singled. Howie Kendrick reached on an error that should have been a double play ball. Adrian Gonzalez walked to load the bases for Justin Turner. He hit a sacrifice fly to right to put the Dodgers ahead. Corey Seager struck out on a nice 3-2 slider from Madison Bumgarner. Justin Ruggiano would ground out. The best part about the inning — besides the run scored — is the Dodgers made Bumgarner work. He threw 26 pitches in the inning in what would be his shortest outing since July 19.
Hernandez tagged Bumgarner for a solo home run in the third inning on a 3-1 slider. It’s so, so, so good to have him back in the fold. Kershaw had 13-pitch at-bat in the fifth inning that would get Bumgarner’s pitch count to 100 after five. He, unsurprisingly, went out for the sixth and was rudely greeted by Ruggiano and A.J. Ellis. They hit back-to-back home runs to give the Dodgers a 4-0 lead. Those homers chased Bumgarner from the game and ended his season. Ruggiano is making a spirited case to be on the NLDS roster ahead of Scott Van Slyke.
Kershaw ran into a little trouble in the third inning, which is to say he actually allowed a hit and that runner to reach second base. But he was great all night. Through four innings, he had just 47 pitches. So, he decided to start striking out everyone. He would spin off six consecutive strikeouts in the fifth- and sixth innings. He would finish with 13 strikeouts (10 swinging) and is at 294 on the season. He has a better-than-good shot at 300 on the season. Oh, and he retired the last 19 batters he faced. That’s a 1-hit, 1-walk shutout, if you’re scoring at home.
I know this isn’t going to shut people up about Kershaw and big games because it isn’t October, but the best pitcher in the world spun a shutout to put his team in the playoffs. That’s a pretty big situation.
The Dodgers improve to 88-69 on the season and trail the Mets by one game for home field advantage in the NLDS. Mike Bolsinger (6-5, 3.48 ERA) takes on Mike Leake (10-10, 3.89) in Game 3 of this 4-game series. First pitch is scheduled for 7:15 p.m. Pacific time. The Mets have two more games with the Phillies and close the season with a 3-gamer against the Nationals. It’ll be interesting to see if the Dodgers can catch them. If not, Games 1 and 2 of the NLDS will be at Citi Field.