It was a bit of a struggle for Clayton Kershaw in his first start since the All-Star break, but he was good enough to lead the Dodgers to a 1-0 win Tuesday night over the White Sox in Chicago. It was their 10th consecutive win, a feat they’ve accomplished twice this season.
It was also the Dodgers’ second 1-0 win of the season, the first of which came on July 5 when Alex Wood was the pitcher of fortune.
The Dodgers got on the board right out of the gate. Chris Taylor led off with an infield single and stole second base on the first pitch of Corey Seager‘s at bat. Seager walked and with one out, and Cody Bellinger bounced a ball through the right side for an RBI single. It was his 62nd RBI in his 74th game. I know, “lol RBI,” but that’s still pretty impressive for the now 22-year-old.
It was clear early on that Kershaw didn’t have his fastball command. He was missing in every quadrant with it. Luckily, he brought the 70-grade versions of his curveball and slider. On the night, he finished with a strong line: 7 IP, 7 H, 0 R, 1 BB, 7 K, 103 pitches, 70 strikes, 8/1 GO/AO. Most pitchers would take that every time out and not look back. That is the greatness of Mr. Kershaw.
Kershaw got into a spot of bother in the third inning that saw Avisail Garcia get a 2-out hit and Kershaw balked him to second base, but there was no damage. Garcia actually had some of the best plate appearances of the night against Kershaw, as he walked and added another infield single. The walk was noteworthy because he had just a 4.2 percent walk rate coming into the game. Naturally, he coaxed a walk out of one of the game’s best command/control pitchers. Go figure.
His other trouble spot was the sixth inning. Garcia led off with that infield single, and he got to second base on a throwing error by Seager. After a single by Matt Davidson that advanced Garcia to third base, Tyler Saladino bunted a ball into the air that Yasmani Grandal caught for the second out. Yolmer Sanchez then grounded out to Turner to end the inning.
Back to the game, Kershaw’s fastball command improved as the game progressed. In turn, his slider command regressed a little, but he was still good enough overall through seven scoreless innings against one of baseball’s most productive teams against left-handed pitchers.
Oh, and this was funny.
The best thrower of baseballs in the world pic.twitter.com/KliEuAG14X
— Daniel Brim (@DanielBrim) July 19, 2017
The Dodgers had plenty of scoring chances, as they had runners on base in seemingly every inning against White Sox’s starter Miguel Gonzalez and their short bullpen. Gonzalez made a few nice pitches, but he was a guy who had a 5.17 FIP coming into the game, but he was able to limit the Dodgers to one run despite walking five hitters in six innings. And even though Turner doubled off him in the third inning, Gonzalez made Turner look foolish a couple times with his 91-92 MPH 2-seam fastball. He also induced three double plays, which really helped him out.
In the top of the eighth, the Dodgers may have had their best chance for insurance as Bellinger led off with a bloop single to center field and Forsythe hit a grounder through the right side to make it first and third with no outs. Enrique Hernandez pinch-hit for Pederson, and he was intentionally walked. That brought up Grandal with no outs, and he struck out on three pitches. Yasiel Puig was due next but couldn’t come through, as he grounded into the fourth double play of the night for the Dodgers.
— Daniel Brim (@DanielBrim) July 19, 2017
Baez got Jose Abreu to foul out and Garcia to ground out to end the eighth. Kenley Jansen pitched the ninth inning, as he is oft wont to do, and he did well, as he is oft wont to do. He allowed a long fly ball out to Matt Davidson that — don’t lie — you thought was a home run. After a ground out by Alen Hanson, Sanchez hit a single to right field. With two outs, Jansen struck out Omar Narvaez on a slider to end the game. It was his 24th save of the season.
Taylor finished with four hits on the night — three singles and double — and a stolen base. So much for that whole “Chris Taylor is coming back to earth” and “Dodgers needed J.D. Martinez” narrative. Bellinger wasn’t retired in four plate appearances (two singles, two walks — one of which was intentional … in the third inning … lol).
The Dodgers move to 65-29 on the season and remain 10 1/2 games ahead of the Diamondbacks in the NL West. They’re 30-4 in their last 34 games. It’s the best stretch of this sort since 1977.