So here’s the good news: Clayton Kershaw went seven innings against the Reds tonight, and he allowed just three hits and only two runs. I’m pretty sure that if we’d been given that option prior to the game, most of us would have taken it; it’s difficult to look at that outcome and think “man, Kershaw wasn’t great.”
But man… Kershaw wasn’t great, except that perhaps the simple fact that he was able to hold the Reds to such little run production on a night where he looked so off is the true indicator of his greatness. Two of those three hits were home runs by Jay Bruce, and his command was really a mess all night long, particularly with the curve.
Kershaw hit two Reds, walked three more, and tossed in a balk (a more than questionable one, but still) for good measure. Kershaw had just one clean inning, and even walked opposing pitcher Homer Bailey during a mess of a third inning that briefly had the bases loaded with one out, avoiding disaster only when Joey Votto‘s smoked line drive found Adrian Gonzalez‘ glove. It’s another in a run of somewhat disappointing Kershaw starts — still fantastic for any other human being, but less so for the best pitcher alive — and it’s starting to get a little concerning.
Also concerning? A fourth loss in a row (for the first time in four months, to be fair), and a three-game sweep at the hands of what might be a playoff opponent. Chris Withrow followed Kershaw by blowing away three Cincinnati hitters, making eight strikeouts in 10 hitters faced by the rookie since the team left for Colorado. Unfortunately, it wasn’t Withrow who stayed in for the ninth, nor was it Kenley Jansen, who hasn’t been seen since Monday.
It was Ronald Belisario, and while I like Belisario more than most… you don’t lose games with your best watching from the sideline, and you never wait for “a save situation” on the road. I mean, if you’re a major league manager, you do, but you shouldn’t. A single and a double (and a lousy relay throw) later, the Reds were coming home with the winning run and the Dodgers limp back west.
It should be noted, of course, that Bailey was outstanding and the umpire’s strike zone was generous, yet Hanley Ramirez still plated both runs with a double and a homer. But other than a sorely needed two-hit night by A.J. Ellis, that’s all the offense could muster, and a resurgence from the bats back home would be welcome just about any day now.
Once again, the Dodgers head back home from the Eastern time zone without a day’s rest — and in this case, without a day game — and immediately welcome the Diamondbacks, who are still 11 games out after losing to San Francisco in extra innings.