Dodgers fans haven’t had a whole lot to cheer about this year, but Clayton Kershaw and Matt Kemp have certainly been outstanding. Last night there was drama as Gerardo Parra homered off of Hong-Chih Kuo after Kuo threw a pitch over Parra’s head.Parra showboated after the HR, stood at home plate for about 30 seconds then fancy danced his way around the bases. Several Dodgers took exception to Parra’s blantant effort to show up Kuo and the Dodgers, particularly Clayton Kershaw. Kershaw basically told Parra to go sit down, act like you’ve been there before, but what do you expect from a guy with 8 home runs.
So Kershaw had the chance shut Parra up himself and strengthen his Cy Young chances tonight, especially after Roy Halladay threw a 6 hit complete game shut-out earlier in the day. Parra doubled off of Kershaw in his first at-bat, but Kershaw got the next 2 outs to keep the D’Backs off the board.
With the Dodgers leading 2-0 in the top of the 6th inning Kershaw threw strike 1 to Parra and then all hell broke loose. Kershaw’s second pitch was inside, about waist high, and ended up hitting Parra in the elbow. Home plate umpire Bill Welke immediately threw Kershaw out of the game.
There was no warning, there was no pre-game warning, Kershaw didn’t throw at his head, and if anything, if Kershaw wanted to drill Parra, and I’m sure part of him really wanted to, he would have done so with the first pitch he threw at Parra in his first at-bat. Don Mattingly was also ejected as he came out and was the most visibly upset I’ve seen him all year. Kershaw was screaming from the dugout “That’s not me, you’ve got to let me pitch.”
However it seems that the umpires had pre-determined that if Kershaw hit Parra he’d be ejected, regardless of the circumstances, so the Dodgers overused bullpen was called on to get the final 12 outs.
However in the 9th Matt Kemp walked, stole 2nd, and scored on a single by Aaron Miles. Ironically it appeared there would be a close play at the plate but Parra totally airmailed the throw, giving the Dodgers an important insurance run.
Kenley Jansen was called on to pitch the 9th and gave up a leadoff single to Aaron Hill on a 1-2 pitch that glanced off of James Loney‘s glove. Jansen then did what he does best and struck out Justin Upton and Paul Goldschmidt, making both of them look silly with his nasty mix of a 95 MPH fastball and some really effective off-speed pitches.
With 2 outs in the 9th the Dodgers did something I absolutely do not understand, they decided to just let Aaron Hill advance to 2nd base on defensive indifference. Hill scored when Miguel Montero singled on an 0-2 pitch. If the Dodgers had held on Hill, like they did when Upton and Goldschmidt were at the plate, Hill wouldn’t have scored, he would have been standing on second base instead.
Not to worry though as Jansen struck out Chris Young on 4 pitches, finishing him off with a nasty breaking ball. Jansen has clearly improved his off-speed pitches this year and he really showed them off tonight. Javy Guerra has been very effective as the Dodgers closer, but in my humble opinion Jansen has earned the right to be the Dodgers closer going into next year.
Jansen has a silly strikeout totals. With his 3 K’s in the 9th tonight he has now struck out 83 batters in just 48 innings pitched. Kershaw took over the Major League lead in ERA, lowering his to 2.30, but he is now 7 strikeouts behind Justin Verlander for the MLB lead. The ejection hurt him in that regard as he lost out on a few KO’s by only being allowed to throw 5 IP.
All in all the Dodgers haven’t had much to root for this year. Rubby De La Rosa suffered a devastating season ending injury requiring Tommy John Surgery, top prospect Trayvon Robinson was surprisingly traded, Frank McCourt has bankrupt the franchise, Juan Uribe has been an awful free agent bust and on and on.
However tonight the Dodgers had their ace on the mound, some bad blood with Arizona from last night’s drama, and saw Kershaw get controversially ejected with no warning. Yet one benefit of this season’s madness is all of the playing time the young players have had.
23 year old Clayton Kershaw got the win; 24 year old Josh Lindblom dominated for 2 innings for a hold; 21 year old Nathan Eovaldi who was very effective as a starter came out of the bullpen throwing 97 MPH and held on to the lead; and 23 year old Kenley Jansen who has been pitching for about 3 years now struck out the side for the save.
Oh and 23 year old Jerry Sands had a key RBI and has 6 hits in his last 3 games, and 26 year old Matt Kemp scored twice, knocked in his 110th RBI on the season and stole his 39th base. Can you say MVP! There are a lot of young talented players Dodgers fans should be excited about.
However, the 900 pound gorilla that is Frank McCourt still owns the Dodgers and according to the LA Times his divorce trial won’t begin until next spring or summer and is supposed to last 30 to 45 days. One has to wonder how the Dodgers will be able to function this off-season, sign their young players to long-term extensions and possibly add a veteran free agent or two.
Until the ownership situation is resolved and the Dodgers get out of bankruptcy court, it’s hard to imagine them having all of the assets they need to seriously contend for a championship.
Topics: Aaron Hill, Aaron Miles, Arizona Diamondbacks, Clayton Kershaw, Frank McCourt, Gerardo Parra, James Loney, Jerry Sands, Josh Lindblom, Justin Upton, Justin Verlander, Kenley Jansen, Los Angeles Dodgers, Matt Kemp, Miguel Montero, Nathan Eovaldi, Paul Goldschmidt, Rubby De La Rosa, Trayvon Robinson