Apparently, all you really need in this life is Clayton Kershaw, who added seven more scoreless innings to his ledger tonight against the Pirates. Kershaw’s now pitched 16 shutout innings this season, striking out 16 against just one walk — and even that one walk, which came tonight against old friend Russell Martin, was immediately rectified by a successful pickoff. Going back to last season, Kershaw’s allowed a lone earned run in his last 35 innings.
It’s really beyond my capacity in writing this blog to explain quite the level of greatness we’re witnessing here. Kershaw is operating on a plane that we haven’t seen in decades, if ever, and it happens so regularly that we basically take it for granted. “Oh, Kershaw’s pitching tonight? He’ll be great.” Well, yes. He will. But that’s not to be taken lightly. We’re lucky enough to be witnesses to the early years of what looks — fingers crossed — to be a career on a historic path.
Of course, all of the quality pitching is merely serving to obscure some atrocious offense, particularly on the left side of the infield. I think we all knew to lower our expectations when Hanley Ramirez got hurt, but I’m not sure if any of us expected this. So far this year, Dodger left-side infielders (mainly Luis Cruz & Justin Sellers, with cameos by Nick Punto & Juan Uribe) have a lone hit (by Punto) and two walks in 38 plate appearances. You think that’s bad? It gets worse: one of the two walks was intentional.
Here’s a perfect microcosm of the problem. In the eighth inning, with Kershaw out and the margin as slim as it could be, Adrian Gonzalez led off with a double. After an Andre Ethier flyout, A.J. Ellis walked, because of course he did. Cruz struck out and looked bad doing it, Sellers did the same, and the runners were stranded.
Other than the intentional walk to Cruz a few days ago, neither of the primary left side starters has reached base even once yet this season. There’s no amount of good defense that’s going to overcome that. That’s not to absolve Matt Kemp, who struck out three times in four hitless at-bats, of course. But at least Kemp has a long history of quality play to fall back on. Cruz & Sellers do not.