Tuesday, May 14, 2013
Quick take: Dodgers 2, Nationals 0
By Mark Saxon
LOS ANGELES -- Every once in a while, you get a glimpse of what this Los Angeles Dodgers team could be. You get a sense of how it can pull itself out of this mess and get on track for the World Series run it envisioned this spring.
Funny how Clayton Kershaw happens to be pitching a lot of those times.
The Dodgers announced some good news before the game -- Zack Greinke will resume his season Wednesday night -- then got more good news during the game. Kershaw was brilliant again Tuesday, striking out 11 Washington Nationals in a 2-0 Dodgers win.
Fans were on their feet in the ninth inning as Kershaw tried to complete the shutout, but Adam LaRoche had a tough at-bat and singled to center, prompting manager Don Mattingly to come out of the dugout to replace Kershaw. His 132 pitches were a career high.
Kershaw's biggest problem has been everybody else around him. The Dodgers simply don't score for him. They had scored an average of 2.10 runs per game when Kershaw was pitching, the worst run support in the majors. That number went down Tuesday.
The Dodgers couldn't get far against wily veteran Dan Haren, who kept them off balance with cutters and split-fingers, masking a fastball that rarely cracked 89 mph. But the Dodgers did have one brief breakthrough, and it was all Kershaw needed.
Andre Ethier, batting .420 in 50 career at-bats off Haren, did it again. He lined a single behind Haren and into center field to drive in two runs with two outs in the third inning. It was the kind of hit the Dodgers -- and Kershaw -- have seemingly been waiting for all season.
Interestingly, Dodgers closer Brandon League -- who has struggled in his last seven outings -- never warmed up in the ninth inning, even as Kershaw's pitch count crept over 120 pitches. Instead, Kenley Jansen and lefty Paco Rodriguez were getting warm, perhaps a sign manager Don Mattingly is shuffling roles at the back end of the bullpen.
Jansen got the final out, a Tyler Moore strikeout, to pick up his second save.