3 up, 3 down: Dodgers 5, Giants 1
October, 3, 2012
By Mark Saxon | ESPNLosAngeles.com
LOS ANGELES -- The Los Angeles Dodgers helped fortify Clayton Kershaw's Cy Young chances with a 5-1 win over the San Francisco Giants at Dodger Stadium on Wednesday night, the last day of the season.
Fast healer. A few weeks ago, everybody wondered whether Kershaw might be headed for hip surgery that could bleed into his 2013 season. Then, all of a sudden, he felt no pain. Kershaw fortified a solid Cy Young case with eight strong innings and got a standing ovation walking off the mound. With only 14 wins, he might have a hard time repeating his award performance, but his other numbers -- leading the majors in ERA (2.53) and the National League in WHIP, one behind R.A. Dickey in strikeouts -- will put him in the thick of the discussion again. Two Cy Youngs by age 25? Not too shabby.
Producing in spots. Adrian Gonzalez described his swing as "a wreck," and his power totals have been nosediving for years, so you wouldn't expect him to have driven in 108 runs. He had a strange season, struggling in every situation other than with runners on base -- particularly in scoring position. There are two ways to look at it. Some might say he was lucky -- came to the plate in a lot of opportunities he didn't create. Others would say it's a promising place to start. If he can iron out his swing glitch, he could be the devastating hitter he was in previous years.
Cruz-erella. Too bad Luis Cruz tailed off a bit at the end of the season and finished just shy of .300 (.297). He nearly rescued this Dodgers season, giving them a shortstop when they needed one and a third baseman when they needed that. Cruz had another base hit Wednesday and was sixth in the NL with a .330 batting average since Aug. 12. Did he do enough to win a job next year? That could depend on what opportunities the Dodgers have this winter, but he might have earned a job somewhere.
Soft finish. After Sept. 1, Matt Kemp batted .222 the rest of the season. That date correlates with a shoulder injury Kemp sustained slamming into an outfield wall in Colorado a few days earlier. Did he play hurt? Probably. Did he hurt the team? Depends on how you look at it. It wasn't as if the Dodgers had other exciting replacements on hand. Would using Juan Rivera in left field and shifting Shane Victorino to center have helped? Probably not, but the fact remains that Kemp's season ended on a down note, an 0-for-10.
Running amok. On Tuesday night, Mark Ellis had been thrown out at third by about 10 feet in a crucial spot. On Wednesday, catcher Tim Federowicz got a bit frisky in trying to go from first to third on Kershaw's single to center. He, too, was out easily. In Ellis' case, there was some reason to try it with only one out. Federowicz broke a cardinal rule, making the final out at third. It's not a big deal, but you'd like to see better instincts from one of the team's top prospects.
Rentals. Of the four players the Dodgers picked up midseason who will be free agents this fall, reliever Brandon League was the only one who performed well enough to justify giving up prospects. The Dodgers gave up reliever Josh Lindblom and a good pitching prospect, Ethan Martin, to acquire Victorino from the Philadelphia Phillies for a couple of months. Victorino never really did his thing consistently, batting .245 and scoring only 26 runs in 52 games. Meanwhile, Martin went 5-0 with a 3.18 ERA for Double-A Reading.