Monday, September 2, 2013
Dodgers pitchers are swinging hot bats
By Mark Saxon
DENVER -- Just as the Los Angeles Dodgers envisioned when they agreed to pay Zack Greinke all that money back in December, he is leading the league in one category and Clayton Kershaw is leading it in another. The only oddity is that Greinke leads the NL in batting average and Kershaw leads it in RBIs.
OK, so they also are all over the pitching leaderboards, but the hitting part has been the pleasant surprise. They knew both pitchers were good athletes who could handle the bat, but they didn’t expect actual production, sometimes even game-changing production.
Clayton Kershaw drove in two runs on a single in the fifth inning Monday that helped decide the game in Denver en route to his 14th win.
After his single (and stolen base) in Sunday’s game, Greinke is batting a league-high .347. Kershaw swatted a pair of singles in the Dodgers’ 10-8 win over the Colorado Rockies on Monday, including a key two-RBI hit, and he has 10 RBIs this season, most in the league, while batting .176.
Hitting has become a theme for Dodgers pitchers this year. Even the new guy, Edinson Volquez -- who will start Wednesday’s game, the team announced -- is among 14 NL pitchers with a home run. Hyun-Jin Ryu is hitting a more-than-respectable .200 (with a triple!).
Dodgers pitchers collectively are batting .177. Outfielder Roger Berardina of the Philadelphia Phillies has managed to get 197 at-bats this year while hitting .173.
They spend most of their time consulting pitching coach Rick Honeycutt, but apparently they’ve spent a little time in the cage with Mark McGwire as well.
“Ryu and Greinke rake, so I’m just trying to keep up,” Kershaw said. “Obviously, Greinke’s in another world right now. As long as guys are on base and we’re getting some runs in and moving that lineup over, just keep going. Who knows how long it’ll last.”
Kershaw was feeling pretty good after he gave the Dodgers a 5-3 lead in the fifth inning, but it was an uncharacteristically poor day for him on the mound. He gave it right back the next half-inning. He allowed a career-high 11 hits though he picked up his 14th win.
In his previous start, Kershaw was pulled in the sixth inning and, even in his start before that, when he pitched eight scoreless innings in Miami, manager Don Mattingly thought he was a little antsy and on edge.
Kershaw (14-8) said he hasn’t felt any different lately and he was probably due to be bailed out by the offense for once, given the nearly criminal lack of run support he has gotten all season. He still leads the majors with a 1.89 ERA. And this is Coors Field we’re talking about.
“It’s always good to get some hits, especially if you’re not going to pitch good,” Kershaw said.