Giants 2, Dodgers 1: Bumgarner outduels Kershaw

For the second time in less than a week, the Dodgers ran out a “Sunday Special” lineup against Madison Bumgarner, and for the second time, they lost. This time, 2-1 on Tuesday night at Dodger Stadium.

For some teams, that might sound like a bad idea. For the Dodgers — the deepest team in baseball — it was a calculated risk. Adrian Gonzalez is going to need a day off here or there, so why not against one of the game’s best left-handed pitchers? Andre Ethier is putrid against lefties, so that’s a no-brainer. Joc Pederson has only not started two games this season — both against Bumgarner.

But the bench-dominated lineup couldn’t break through against Bumgarner, who had one of his best outings of the season (8 IP, 5 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 1 BB, 9 K, 110 pitches, 73 strikes, 8/4 GO/AO).

Oh, and Clayton Kershaw pitched — well, even. He had his best outing of the season (7 IP, 7 H, 2 R, 2 ER, 0 BB, 8 K, 1 HR, 92 pitches, 66 strikes, 10/1 GO/AO), but it wasn’t enough. He allowed a BABIP RBI single to Buster Posey in the first inning that the Giants’ broadcast predictably called a line drive. Posey did hit a home run to center field in the fourth inning that was rather legitimate.

The Dodgers’ lone run came on an RBI fielder’s choice by Howie Kendrick.

Don Mattingly had a rough seventh inning. But first, something else happened. Alex Guerrero flied out to begin the bottom of the seventh.

I’m not exactly sure what Bumgarner’s problem was, but I’m guessing it had something to do with Guerrero’s game-tying home run off him last week. Bumgarner is a known red-ass, so I guess this shouldn’t be surprising.

Juan Uribe followed this with a single and A.J. Ellis grounded into a fielder’s choice. With Ellis at first base, Kershaw’s spot in the lineup was due. With all the true right-handed hitters in the lineup, Mattingly opted for Yasmani Grandal — a switch-hitter — to face Bumgarner with a runner at first base. Joc Pederson was called upon to run for Ellis. On the surface, that isn’t a bad strategy, seeing as Ellis is a 20-grade runner. But the fact Pederson — the team’s second-best hitter to this point — was not left in the game in some capacity was mind-boggling. That literally makes no sense. Oh, a Grandal struck out after letting a hittable 2-1 pitch go by.

While that by itself didn’t lose the game, the fact Mattingly felt it appropriate to burn Pederson as solely a pinch-runner in a 1-run game is beyond frustrating. He could have, at the very least, used Pederson to hit for Ellis. At least that would have made use of his bat (even if it would have been against Bumgarner). In the end, it didn’t really matter.

The Dodgers (12-8) entertain the Giants (9-12) in the rubber game on Wednesday. It’ll be Zack Greinke (3-0, 1.35 ERA) taking on Ryan Vogelsong (0-1, 7.71). First pitch is scheduled for 7:10 p.m. Pacific time.

About Dustin Nosler

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Dustin Nosler began writing about the Dodgers in July 2009 at his blog, Feelin' Kinda Blue. He co-hosted a weekly podcast with Jared Massey called Dugout Blues. He was a contributor/editor at The Hardball Times and True Blue LA. He graduated from California State University, Sacramento, with his bachelor’s degree in journalism and a minor in digital media. While at CSUS, he worked for the student-run newspaper The State Hornet for three years, culminating with a 1-year term as editor-in-chief. He resides in Stockton, Calif.