Tuesday, May 15, 2012
Clearing the bases: Kershaw is good
By David Schoenfield
First base: No Kemp, plenty Kershaw. It's too early in the season to call any series a "big" series, but considering the Diamondbacks entered Monday 8.5 games behind the Dodgers and Matt Kemp didn't play for the first time since Aug. 18, 2009 ... well, it's kind of an important two-game showdown for them. Monday's game was a battle of aces with Clayton Kershaw facing Ian Kennedy and featured some extracurricular fireworks. The last time Kershaw faced Arizona, last September, he was ejected for plunking Gerardo Parra, who had longingly admired a home run the previous night. On Kershaw's first at-bat, Kennedy threw behind him.
But Kershaw got the final word. He later introduced Kennedy's nose to the smell of some inside heat and pitched seven shutout innings in L.A.'s 3-1 victory. Arizona just can't produce many runs right now. Paul Goldschmidt, Ryan Roberts and Willie Bloomquist are still struggling at the plate and Justin Upton's OPS continues to hover under .700. He did get a first-inning single off Kershaw -- his first hit off Kershaw after going 0-for-18. If there's good news for the Diamondbacks, it's that they owned an identical 15-21 record last season after 36 games. They even dropped to 15-22, before turning their season around, winning 15 of their next 17 games.
Second base: Reds scare. So the St. Louis Cardinals have outscored their opponents by 63 runs, they have an MVP candidate in Carlos Beltran, six guys in Monday's lineup hitting over .300 (none of whom were Beltran, Matt Holliday or David Freese) and three starters with an ERA under 2.50. The Cincinnati Reds have outscored their opponents by six runs, have three starters with an ERA over 4.00, five guys in Monday's lineup hitting under .260 and only one hitter who has more than nine walks. And, somehow, the Reds are just 1.5 games behind the Cardinals.
Third base: Friedrich fantastic, Tulo not. Rockies rookie Christian Friedrich once again looked terrific in his second major league start, striking out 10 and allowing just a Gregor Blanco home run in seven innings. Friedrich, the one-time top prospect who struggled in Double-A the past two seasons, had pitched well in Triple-A this year and now has 17 strikeouts and just two walks over his first two starts. Friedrich's effort went for naught as the Giants scored two runs in the eighth off the Colorado bullpen, dropping the Rockies to 13-21. Troy Tulowitzki continues to struggle in May (he hasn't homered since April 27), was hit by Dexter Fowler's foul ball while standing in the dugout and then left the game after limping down the line on an infield single.
Tweet of the night. Speaking of that inside pitch to Kershaw ...