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Sunday, September 9, 2012
Kershaw has the hook vs the Giants

By ESPN Stats & Information


Getty ImagesClayton Kershaw has the lowest ERA of any pitcher against the Giants in MLB history.
The Los Angeles Dodgers and San Francisco Giants play the rubber match of their series tonight at AT&T Park (8 ET on ESPN).

The Giants lead the season series 8-6 with another three-game set slated for the final week of the season. If San Francisco can keep their advantage, it would be their third straight non-losing season series vs the Dodgers. The last time they had a streak like that against their rivals was 1990-92.

AT HOME BY THE BAY
The Dodgers send Clayton Kershaw to the mound tonight with a chance to move into the second wild card spot, pending the outcome of the St. Louis Cardinals game against the Milwaukee Brewers.

Although Kershaw wears the Dodger blue, he is quite comfortable pitching by the bay at AT&T Park and against these Giants.

His 1.39 ERA versus the Giants is the lowest of any pitcher in major-league history with at least 100 innings pitched against the franchise, since the league began tracking earned runs in 1912.

He has been even more dominant at AT&T Park, where his 0.66 ERA in 54 2/3 innings there is the lowest all-time at the stadium. In seven starts at AT&T Park, Kershaw has two shutouts; in 83 starts at AT&T Park, Sunday night’s opposing starter, Barry Zito, doesn’t have a single shutout.

Kershaw’s signature curveball has been nearly unhittable this year, as he leads the all starters in opponent batting average, on-base percentage, slugging percentage and strikeout rate in at-bats ending in a curve.

Like most teams, the Giants haven’t been able to figure out how to hit the pitch. This season, Giants batters are hitless in 15 at-bats ending in a curve from Kershaw and 10 of the 15 outs have been strikeouts. In his career, he has held the Giants to a .077 batting average with his curve.

If the Giants are able to even to get wood on a curveball from Kershaw tonight it would be nearly historic. He has thrown 95 curveballs at AT&T Park in his career and only three have been put in play and none have gone for hits.

BUSTING OUT
Buster Posey has emerged as an MVP candidate in the second half with a MLB-best .380 batting average since the break. That mark would be the third-highest batting average in the second half by a catcher in the All-Star era (since 1933).

His hot second half has been fueled by his significant improvement in hitting pitches on the outside part of the plate.

His OPS in plate appearances ending in pitches away has more than doubled since the break compared to before it, and he has also cut his strikeout rate on those pitches in half.

However, he’ll face a stiff challenge to keep up this second-half surge against Kershaw tonight. Posey is just 6-for-31 (.194) with eight strikeouts in his career against the lefty. That is Posey’s worst batting average against any pitcher he’s faced at least 10 times.