In baseball, it’s foolish to call any game a done deal before it even gets started, but with the way Clayton Kershaw has been pitching lately, I couldn’t fault you for saying it today. And all Kershaw did was continue his recent run of absolute dominance, throwing seven more scoreless innings against the Cardinals who beat him up so badly in the NLCS last year. Kershaw has now thrown 28 innings since allowing his last run, which scored on June 13th.
Kershaw lowered his season ERA to 2.04, and his season FIP down to 1.48. He struck out thirteen batters against two walks. Eight of the strikeouts were on his slider, three on his fastball, and two on the curve. It’s hard to put how good he has been into words. After today’s seven innings, he’s only 4-2/3 innings shy of qualifying for the ERA title. Even if he’s not quite “qualified” yet, he overtook Adam Wainwright for the NL lead in pitching fWAR with today’s effort. In June, Kershaw allowed three runs, struck out 61 batters and walked four. Just incredible.
Of course, Kershaw needs offense, too. At first, it didn’t look like he would get it. In Shelby Miller‘s first trip through the Dodger order, Kershaw was the only baserunner (he walked). The offense finally got a hit in the fourth inning, as Adrian Gonzalez bunted to beat the shift. Kemp singled over Mark Ellis‘ head to drive in Yasiel Puig, who reached base on a walk. Juan Uribe drove in Gonzalez on a sacrifice fly to plate the second run of the inning.
The fifth and final inning of Miller’s day was even worse, as the Dodgers scored four more runs. Puig doubled on a routine base hit to left, as he tends to do. Gonzalez drove in Puig with a single, then Kemp doubled Gonzalez to third. That set the stage for Andre Ethier. Since June 16th, Ethier has hit .188/.212/.219. Extending the window back to May 28th doesn’t do him any favors; Ethier hit .200/.244/.259 in that span with no home runs. But with runners on second and third with two outs, Andre Ethier hit a home run to right-center field to put the Dodgers ahead by six. Miller exited after the inning. He allowed six runs, striking out four (three in the first inning) and walked three.
After Ethier’s homer, the only other drama of the day was seeing if the Dodgers would set Scott Van Slyke‘s foot on fire. It’ll be worth seeking out a video replay of Scully’s call of the situation if it is posted online.
And of course, the Giants lost today, so the Dodgers are now “tied” for first place (the Giants still technically lead in winning percentage) after being behind by 9-1/2 games three weeks ago. They’ll try to continue their string of victories against Corey Kluber, one of the better pitchers in baseball so far this year, tomorrow night.