Even Matt Kemp Can’t Save This Mess

With the Dodgers up 4-0 five innings into the game, I started thinking about what I might want to write about tonight. Initially, this post was going to be titled “Matt Kemp Is A Shiny Golden God”, as he’d homered and tripled to drive in three of the four runs. (He’d later add a double, too.) I didn’t want to shortchange Clayton Kershaw, however, who’d allowed just two singles in five shutout innings.

Good thing I didn’t actually start writing that post, because the wheels fell off in a hurry. Kershaw ran into trouble in the sixth inning, allowing three runs to come in on three hits and a walk, but he helped get them back by leading off the seventh with a hit, one of his two on the day. The Dodgers would get those three back on four hits and some kind Colorado defense, restoring the four run lead headed into the bottom of the seventh.

That frame – bottom seven – ended up being one of the uglier ones we’ve seen in years. I’ve seen some arguments that Kershaw should have been lifted to start the inning after his struggles in the sixth, but I can’t really fault Don Mattingly here. His pitch count was low, he’d retired the last two in the sixth, and he’s Clayton Kershaw with a four-run lead. I get it. But the first two batters singled, the third walked, and Kershaw left with the bases loaded and no outs. Scott Elbert and Mike MacDougal combined to retire one of the next six batters, and after a half-inning that lasted over 40 minutes, the Rockies had put up five runs to take the lead. Poor Elbert; though he didn’t get the job done, he allowed a single and a walk against a strikeout in his three batters, and he gets pinned with the loss.

(I’d like to take this opportunity to once again point out how silly ERA can be. Kershaw left the bases loaded, and while starting that mess is definitely on him, once he left the game he had absolutely no control over whether those runners score. If Elbert wiggles out of that mess, Kershaw allows three earned runs, which doesn’t look so bad. Elbert (and MacDougal) couldn’t, and so Kershaw’s line looks like a disaster. MacDougal, by the way, faced three batters without retiring a single one. He wasn’t charged with any earned runs. Remember that when someone looks at MacDougal’s 2.14 ERA and tries to tell you he’s any good. Hooray, ERA!)

Though the Dodgers were only down by one run with six outs remaining in the Coors Field funhouse, the game was all but over at that point. (It didn’t help that Josh Lindblom allowed another run to cross in the eighth.) The Dodgers went down meekly in the eighth, and Kemp (needing a single for the cycle) and Rod Barajas failed to cash in on Andre Ethier‘s one-out double in the ninth.

Oh, and in what’s becoming a regular feature here… Kemp & Ethier, 6-9. Kershaw, 2-3. Everyone else, 4-26.

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  1. [...] of a running joke, as you can see by the large gap between his ERA and his FIP. Just as an example, here’s part of a recap of a randomly selected game from June, though know that this could (and did) apply to a whole lot of MacDougal appearances: I’d like to [...]