Clayton Kershaw reached yet another milestone in his illustrious career today, notching the 2000th strikeout of his career in the top of the second inning against Jonathan Villar. I suppose it’s only appropriate that the game itself against the Brewers was a pitchers’ duel, as Kershaw and Jimmy Nelson matched zeroes for most of the game. In the end, however, neither pitcher factored into the decision and it took extra innings and a Cody Bellinger homer for Dodgers to prevail over the Brewers, 2-1.
After looking surprisingly human to start the season, then seemingly getting back on track, Kershaw struggled with the long ball in his last outing. However, any concerns were quickly quieted, at least after he allowed the first two Brewers hitters of the game to reach. Kershaw then retired 20 batters in a row, thanks in large part to having his best curve going.
Unfortunately, Kershaw definitely didn’t get 21 in a row, as Domingo Santana took a 1-0 grooved fastball way out of the park to center to give the Brewers the lead.
Still, Kershaw struck out 14 batters in his 7 frames, allowing just 2 hits and 1 walk on the night. Most importantly, he definitely had it working today.
On the other side of things, Nelson dominated the Dodgers, striking out 11 batters in 8 innings of shutout work, allowing just 5 hits on the night. For the most part, the Dodgers just had no chance, but the 8th inning was an exception and they blew it in comically terrible fashion.
The offense got things started with a fortunate dribbler to third by Yasiel Puig for a single, which was followed by a clean single from Brett Eibner to put runners on first and second with nobody out. For whatever reason, Dave Roberts then sent Chris Taylor up there to bunt for Kershaw, which honestly never made any sense at all.
There’s a marginal advantage to bunting, assuming everything goes as planned, but the context makes things look foolish.
— MLB Insider Dinger (@atf13atf) June 3, 2017
Additionally, Taylor is one of the better hitters on the Dodgers this year, so sending him up there to bunt is just nonsensical. Yet that’s exactly what happened, and Taylor failed to bunt twice then hit the ball hard but almost into a double play, escaping catastrophe due to the ball initially being bobbled. Foolish sequence. Then with runners on the corners, Logan Forsythe hit another ball hard but at second base again, and this time they turned the double play to escape the jam.
So it seemed like the Dodgers blew their chance, but miraculously though, in the 9th the Dodgers made a one-swing comeback thanks to Yasmani Grandal.
Everybody can thank me for posting this earlier.
Nelson is dominating and if not they have Knebel, so … yeah.
— Chad Moriyama (@ChadMoriyama) June 3, 2017
But they weren’t done, as Adrian Gonzalez followed it up with a one-out double to the left-center gap. Enrique Hernandez pinch-ran for him and advanced to third on a fly out to deep right. Bellinger was then intentionally walked, and after Puig got ahead 3-0, he too was intentionally walked. Even with Austin Barnes on the bench, Dave choose to let Eibner and his like 90% strikeout rate face a reliever with like a 90% strikeout rate which ended about as you’d expect. Threat over.
The bullpen thankfully continued to be amazing. Pedro Baez got two scoreless innings, allowing two hits and a walk, but striking out 5. Grant Dayton then entered in extras and seemed like the 2016 version of himself in striking out the side in a 1-2-3 inning. Kenley Jansen then got a scoreless 11th inning with two strikeouts even if he did allow a questionable hit-by-pitch.
The Dodgers offense was also kept quiet after the 9th like they had been for the rest of the game, at least until Bellinger stepped up in the 12th and destroyed one.
Kenley stayed in for the 12th in order to attempt the 6-out win, and after getting the lead-off hitter on a strikeout, he allowed a bloop double into left after Eibner decided to take a leisurely stroll to the ball. After a steal of third with still only one out, the Dodgers were in trouble, but Kenley came out huge with another strikeout and then got a pop-up to Corey Seager to end the game.
How do you hit that? I dunno.
In two instants, one of the most frustrating games of the season for the Dodgers was gone.
Dodgers pitchers struck out 26 Brewers batters today, a franchise record. In fact, they set an NL record and tied an MLB record.
The Dodgers tied an MLB record by striking out 26 batters in a game. They did it in 12 innings. Other three all took 17+ innings.
— Andrew Simon (@AndrewSimonMLB) June 3, 2017
Oh yeah, Puig got trolled by the Brewers’ middle infield.
With the win, the Dodgers improve to 34-22 overall and 13-14 away from Dodger Stadium. The Diamondbacks lost today, so the Dodgers leapfrog them and move into a current tie for first with the Rockies in the NL West. The Rockies are currently losing to the Padres 6-4 in the 6th inning, and if they fall, then the Dodgers are in first again.
The Dodgers go for the series win against the Brewers tomorrow at 10:10 PM HST/1:10 PM PST/4:10 PM EST. The pitching matchup will be Rich Hill (4.09 ERA/5.12 FIP/7.42 DRA), who is mainly looking for consistency, against Matt Garza (3.98 ERA/4.06 FIP/5.22 DRA), who hasn’t really been good for a while now.