A Clayton Kershaw and Madison Bumgarner match-up will always be a story, but I’m guessing people didn’t think hits by Charlie Culberson and Ehire Adrianza would play key roles. And yet they did exactly that, because baseball is glorious and miserable, and the Dodgers ended up pulling out a 3-2 win in 10 innings over the Giants thanks to a Culberson RBI double.
Let the record books show who won The Great Culberson/Adrianza War Of 2016.
Kershaw wasn’t at his sharpest today, allowing a bunch of hard-hit balls for outs, but it was still a performance worthy of a win. In his eight innings of work, he allowed one walk and four hits while striking out five batters. That sounds all well and good, but two of those hits happened to be homers, and by relatively unlikely sources in Bumgarner and Adrianza.
For Bumgarner, Kershaw can speak for himself…
Fair reaction from Kershaw here, via @LOLKNBR: https://t.co/xhC0bHQ5FE
— Andy McCullough (@McCulloughTimes) April 9, 2016
…and Adrianza was just weird.
Ehire Adrianza homered off Kershaw. He had a career .296 slugging and one home run entering this game.
— YCPB (@cantpredictball) April 9, 2016
Of course, it says a lot about Kershaw that two runs in eight innings wasn’t one of his better starts, and he definitely deserved the ‘W’ next to his name. However, the Dodgers went an impressive 2-for-21 with runners in scoring position, which left him with a no decision.
The first inning for the Dodgers unfortunately set a tone for the innings that would follow, at least in terms of producing a bunch of baserunners but not a bunch of runs. Enrique Hernandez led the game off with a double, and he was followed by a Yasiel Puig walk. Justin Turner then popped out on the first pitch he saw, and Adrian Gonzalez lined out on the second pitch he saw. Scott Van Slyke then reached on an error by Matt Duffy to load the bases, but Trayce Thompson ended up stranding all three runners on a ground out.
After the second frame came and went quietly for the Dodgers, a similar scenario played out again in the third inning. Enrique led the inning off with a single, and after Puig flied out, back-to-back singles by Turner and A-Gon loaded the bases. SVS was then hit by a pitch on a 0-2 count and ended up driving in a run, but because nothing positive can be achieved without a blood sacrifice these days, he immediately exited with lower back tightness.
Lower back tightness for Van Slyke.
— Ken Gurnick (@kengurnick) April 9, 2016
The bases were still loaded, of course, but Thompson and A.J. Ellis both struck out to strand the trio of baserunners.
The fourth saw Culberson lead off with a double, but he was stranded there (a theme). And after a quiet fifth for the Dodgers, Thompson was then stranded at second after a lead-off double of his own.
The seventh also went quietly, but the eighth again started with a lead-off double and ended with no runs. A-Gon doubled down the left-field line off lefty specialist Javier Lopez, and after Austin Barnes was announced as the pinch hitter for Joc Pederson, the Giants brought in righty Hunter Strickland. Dave Roberts then proceeded to have Barnes try to bunt with the bottom of the order and a strikeout prone Thompson on deck, but it ended up even worse than that decision seemed as Barnes struck out after missing on two bunt attempts. Thompson then followed by striking out himself, which was always the reason why bunting for him was probably a bad idea. Then to complete the mess, Roberts pinch-hit Corey Seager for A.J., and Seager was walked intentionally to get to Culberson. Either that means Roberts likes Culberson and his career .576 OPS (wait for it) more than A.J. or that was another strategic mistake.
In the ninth, newly promoted Micah Johnson flew out routinely to center on the first pitch he saw, but Chase Utley drew a walk to set things up for the middle of the order. After Puig got down in the count 0-2, he drove a slider on the black back up the middle for a single in a promising piece of hitting. Turner was then hit in the back to load the bases, which brought up A-Gon and made me want to barf out of nervousness.
I should be excited by this, but after today's game, now I feel like baseball is setting me up for maximum pain.
— Chad Moriyama (@ChadMoriyama) April 9, 2016
A-Gon, of course, actually did hit a rather routine double play ball, but Kelby Tomlinson at second booted it and could only get one out at first, allowing Utley to score and tie the game at two.
Chris Hatcher came in for the ninth to relieve Kershaw, because managers hate using their closer on the road because of saves or whatever. Buster Posey greeted him by promptly banging a single to left and stealing a base, but Hatcher struck out Hunter Pence and Duffy before issuing an intentional walk to Brandon Belt. Finally, after a nine-pitch battle with Joe Panik, Hatcher ended it with a beautiful 3-2 split to strike out the side and escape damage.
In the top of the 10th, Thompson started by grounding out, which was important because Seager followed with a double. The Dodgers failed to cash in four lead-off doubles in this game, but after Seager’s one-out double, Culberson went the other way for a double of his own to drive in Seager.
I hope Culberson makes me regret citing his OPS in what I already have written for this recap.
— Chad Moriyama (@ChadMoriyama) April 9, 2016
That finally allowed Kenley Jansen to step into a game for a save opportunity. The Giants lineup was annoying as always, forcing Jansen to throw 17 pitches, but he set the hitters down 1-2-3 while notching a strikeout to at least ensure the Dodgers don’t get swept in the four-game series.
And breathe … for 20 hours.