Monday, September 24, 2012
Gonzalez does damage early in count
By Lee Singer, Stats & Info Group
The Los Angeles Dodgers kept pace in the Wild Card race by beating the Cincinnati Reds with the help of two big lefties; Adrian Gonzalez and Clayton Kershaw.
After homering in his first plate appearance with the Dodgers on August 25, Gonzalez went 105 at-bats before hitting his second one in the second inning Sunday.
According to the Elias Sports Bureau, it was the third-longest homerless at-bat streak of Gonzalez’s career. He went 110 at-bats between home runs for the Padres in 2006 and had a drought of 109 at-bats earlier this season for the Red Sox.
Sunday was the 14th multi-home run game of Gonzalez’s career, but it was the first in which both of his homers gave his team the lead. His second-inning homer put the Dodgers ahead 1-0 and his seventh-inning homer made it 2-1 Los Angeles.
Both of Gonzalez’s homers also came early in the count, the first off a 1-0 fastball and the second off a first-pitch slider.
Gonzalez, like many hitters, has been at his best this season when he attacks early in the count.
Twelve of his 18 homers this season, including all three with the Dodgers, have come early in the count.
Plus, Gonzalez now has five career homers in just 15 at-bats against Homer Bailey, his most against any pitcher.
Kershaw took the mound for the first time in 12 days due to a hip injury. He was a bit rusty, especially with his fastball command.
Kershaw threw just 32 of his 62 fastballs (52 percent) for strikes, his second-lowest percentage in 147 career starts. He issued five walks for the first time this season and only the second time in the last two seasons.
However, Kershaw still was able to command his breaking pitches, and he was able to escape trouble by going to them in key situations.
Six of the seven curveballs Kershaw threw came with runners in scoring position. Reds hitters finished 1-for-9 in at-bats ending with his breaking balls and 2-for-8 with runners in scoring position.
Three of Kershaw’s five strikeouts came with runners in scoring position, all with his breaking balls (two curveballs, one slider). Maybe the biggest coming from a slider that struck out Joey Votto with the bases loaded in the fourth inning.
It was the 10th time Votto has struck out against Kershaw in 17 career at-bats, his most against any pitcher. Six of the first seven strikeouts came on fastballs, but the last three strikeouts have come on breaking balls.
The Dodgers are off Monday, but finish the season with three games at the San Diego Padres, and six games at home. Three apiece vs the Colorado Rockies and rival San Francisco Giants.