Kershaw, Barajas, Brewer Defense Help Dodgers Avoid Sweep

Considering that the Dodgers had scored all of two runs in the first three games of this four-game set, breaking out for five in this afternoon’s finale to avoid being swept practically qualifies as a miracle. Sure, there was a hefty amount of that renowned Wisconsin generosity involved – one run scored on a Brewer error, another probably wouldn’t have if Jerry Hairston had made an accurate throw from center, and two more might have been avoided if shortstop Josh Wilson had even the slightest bit of range to get to a likely double-play ball – but we’ll let that slide, since Rod Barajas‘ second inning blast was more than enough for Clayton Kershaw.

Jon Weisman at Dodger Thoughts looked at Kershaw’s Cy Young candiacy this morning, and while I’m not convinced that he’ll really beat out Roy Halladay for the award, it’s getting impossible to find the right words to describe the dominance we’re seeing from the young lefty on a nearly every-start basis. With six more strikeouts, he extended his NL lead to 15 over Cliff Lee, though his 199 is still just behind Justin Verlander‘s 204 for the overall lead.

But the number that’s most interesting today is “zero”, because that’s the amount of Brewers Kershaw walked. For years, we’ve said that the only thing that would stop Kershaw from going from “above-average young pitcher” to “superduperstar” was his occasional wildness, and the progress made in that arena has been remarkable. Not only has his BB/9 dropped from 4.8 to 3.6 to 2.3 over the last three seasons, today marked the 7th time in his career he’d thrown at least seven innings without walking anyone – and all have come since June 27, 2010.

Kershaw threw 104 innings pitches through eight scoreless, and while there’s certainly an argument to be made for letting him stay out to try for his third shutout of the season, it’s also tough to argue that you need to rack up more pitches on his arm in a 5-0 game. I had to laugh, though; whereas it was Mike MacDougal who was called upon in an 1-1 tie in the 9th inning on Tuesday, today it was Javy Guerra who came in to finish out the 9th inning. Hey, whenever you can make sure that your better pitchers are going in lower leverage situations, that’s an opportunity you have to take.