Clayton Kershaw turned in another gem of a performance today, netting the Dodgers a 4-2 win over the Mets, a 2-1 series win, and a 4-3 season series win. However, the story of the game was about how Kershaw was taken out more than it was about how he pitched thanks to a bizarre decision by Dave Roberts.
It’s a Kershaw start, so everything starts with him. Kershaw went 114 pitches over 7.2 innings, striking out 10 batters and walking none. For the season, that increases his strikeout-to-walk ratio to even more ridiculous than before.
Clayton Kershaw has a 105/5 K/BB in 86.2 innings.
— Mike Petriello (@mike_petriello) May 30, 2016
Kershaw allowed only four hits on the game, but he did get in trouble because of two doubles, and he gave up a run in the sixth inning after Asdrubal Cabrera homered.
But Kershaw was eventually charged with another run on a controversial move that deserves every bit of scrutiny it’s going to get. With his pitch count rising and his command waning, Roberts took out Kershaw in the eighth inning with two outs. In itself, that decision to remove Kershaw was fine, because Kershaw’s command was off since even the inning before. The pitches were missing their spots badly, they were up in the zone, and he was clearly tiring. However, the problem was going to Adam Liberatore instead of Kenley Jansen.
To me, there were two options in that scenario: either you let a tiring Kershaw face the lefty in Curtis Granderson or you bring in Jansen to get the four-out save. Nothing else really made sense, because while Liberatore’s ERA is 1.20, he’s actually more of a low-3 ERA type of middle reliever. Nothing in his stuff really screams that he’s a high-leverage type of reliever and his control/command has always been a question. So to let Kershaw face Michael Conforto but not feel comfortable to let him go one batter against another lefty is odd and rather illogical, especially since the best lefty specialist the Dodgers have is easily Kershaw himself. Regardless of the Kershaw/Liberatore debate, what Roberts should’ve done was a no-brainer for me: bring in the elite reliever in Jansen for the four-out save because he hasn’t pitched in three days and might not pitch again for who knows how long.
Instead, Liberatore came in, threw two balls that didn’t challenge Granderson much at all, then hung a slider up, which Granderson drilled to right just out of the reach of Yasiel Puig. Granderson ended up with an RBI triple and the game was tied 2-2. At least he got out of the inning.
On the other side of the coin, for the most part, the offensive explosion of yesterday was gone. The Dodgers got nine hits and four walks, but eight of those hits were singles.
In the third inning, Chase Utley and Corey Seager had back-to-back one-out singles to put runners on the corners. Justin Turner followed by almost grounding into a double play, but by beating the throw to first, he got an RBI and the Dodgers got on the board.
In the fifth inning the Dodgers scored with back-to-back singles from Seager and Turner to put runners on the corners with two outs, after which Adrian Gonzalez followed with a single of his own to give the Dodgers the 2-0 lead they would later blow.
Fortunately, after Liberatore (and Roberts) blew the game, the Dodgers hurt Mets closer Jeurys Familia yet again. Enrique Hernandez led off with a single, and after Utley fouled out, Seager and Turner both followed with walks to load the bases. Again the Dodgers came through, with A-Gon notching a bit of a jam shot single up the middle to plate two runs.
That lead was more than enough for Kenley, who retired the Mets in order in the ninth, notching one strikeout and an important (if not unnecessarily dramatic) win for the Dodgers.
The win takes the Dodgers up to 27-24 overall and 14-12 away from home on the year.
With the three-game series against the Mets behind them, the Dodgers now move on to Chicago to play the Cubs. The series opener kicks off at 2:05 PM PST/5:05 PM EST, and features (a hopefully now healthy) Alex Wood and Jason Hammel.
-The bravest person in America.
-Besides Roberts, the most danger that Kershaw was under all night was of his own doing during an at-bat in the fifth inning, in which he hit himself in the neck with his own broken bat.