It might surprise you to learn that in certain corners of the Internet prior to today’s game, there was some concern over Clayton Kershaw‘s curveball. This is a thing he did to Chase Utley tonight with exactly that curveball:
You know what? I’m not all that worried about Kershaw, particularly after he shut out the Phillies with nine strikeouts over six innings, interrupted by a 43-minute rain delay in the fourth inning. Kershaw, mixing in his change nearly as often as the curve, was just dominant, and the only time he ran into trouble seemed to be merely a setup to show that dominance. In the fourth, Carlos Ruiz led off with a walk, and advanced to third when Utley doubled. The next three Phillies were Marlon Byrd, Ryan Howard, and Daren Ruf. Whiff, whiff, whiff. How dare they test the mighty Kershaw?
Perhaps due to the delay, Kershaw didn’t get a chance to go past six, and that made for an, uh, interesting seventh. Brandon League came on, looking to extend his recent excellence, and instead merely ruined Brim’s upcoming post about said excellence, giving up a single and walk, then making a poor throw on a Tony Gwynn bunt. That loaded the bases with no one out and forced J.P. Howell to come in to an uncomfortable situation, but thanks largely to a great defensive play by Carl Crawford, Howell got out of it with no damage. Brian Wilson threw a perfect eighth, and Kenley Jansen easily got through the ninth, but if you want yet another example of why the save rule is dumb, this is it: Howell was the man in the most important spot in the game, not Jansen.
Crawford also homered in the second, so maybe this post should have been headlined by him rather than Kershaw, but then it should probably also be about Yasiel Puig and Dee Gordon, too. Puig reached base all five times — three singles and two walks — though he somehow never got past first base at any point. He’s now hitting better than Miguel Cabrera did last year. Cabera only won the AL MVP. Puig is really, really, really good. Gordon reached twice, but stole three bases, his 26th, 27th, and 28th of the year, and honestly he made it look easy each time. This is the Gordon we’d long hoped to see, and for quite a while, thought maybe we never would.
Erisbel Arruebarrena made his debut, in theory, though we never got to see his vaunted defensive skills: the Phillies didn’t hit a single ball his way. At the plate, he didn’t make contact, striking out — and looking just as awful as we feared he might — three times, though somehow drawing a four-pitch walk in between.
Also, down in Albuquerque: Joc Pederson hit his 15th homer of the year, and added a triple. It never gets less fun to talk about how well he’s doing.