The Joc Pederson era began on Tuesday night at Dodger Stadium with a win. The Dodgers rested the slumping Yasiel Puig and started Pederson in center field, batting him seventh. Of course don’t be fooled by this. Puig is still the center fielder, but he’s been struggling and Don Mattingly wanted to give him a day-off to clear his head.
So Pederson got the opportunity for his first MLB start. He had already debuted Monday night with a pinch-hit strikeout in the bottom of the ninth. But who do I lead-off with here? Do I lead-off with Pederson? Or do I lead-off with Clayton Kershaw? Because it was another masterful performance from Kershaw, mixed in with some gutsy base running that gave the Dodgers their 4-1 win over Washington Tuesday evening at Dodger Stadium. But everyone wants Joc. Pardon me Mr. Pederson, but Kershaw is getting the headlines here. You will have your moment soon enough.Nationals 1 3 1 Dodgers 4 11 1 WP-Kershaw-17-3 LP-Fister-12-6 SV-Jansen-39 HR-Uribe-7-Harper-11
Kershaw threw eight innings, allowing one earned run, on three hits with two walks and eight strikeouts. Kershaw now has 202 whiffs on the season and has recorded his
fourth fifth consecutive 200+ strikeout season. Kershaw is now 17-3 with a 1.70 ERA. Kershaw leads the majors in wins and ERA.
The Nationals never really threatened throughout the game. There was one mini-rally in the third inning when Asdrubal Cabrera walked, and Jayson Werth hit a looping line drive to shortstop. But Hanley Ramirez made a nice leaping catch to end the inning.
From that point on, Kershaw retired 12 consecutive Nationals, until Bryce Harper smashed a solo home run into the pavilions. Ironically that was the first home run Kershaw has allowed to a left handed batter all season. Amazing.
For a while though it was a tight scoreless battle, as Kershaw and opposing starter Doug Fister (5 IP 10H 4R 3ER 2BB 2K) exchanged zeroes until the Dodgers broke through with two runs in the bottom of the fifth.
The Dodgers had a rally in the bottom of the fourth, but Matt Kemp ran them out of the inning. Kemp doubled, and Carl Crawford’s bunt single seemed to put the Dodgers into a great position. Fister was unable to tag Crawford or throw to first cleanly. But Kemp tried to come around to score on the play, as the ball rolled away from Frandsen. Kemp as thrown out at the plate easily, and that killed that rally.
In that fifth frame, the Dodgers used three ground ball singles, a throwing error from shortstop Ian Desmond, and some truly gutsy base running from Kershaw himself to plate two runs and take a 2-0 lead. Kershaw started it himself with a single up the middle. Then Dee Gordon trickled a ground ball single into center. Kershaw shocked everyone at Dodger Stadium, by going from first to third on Gordon’s hit. Harper’s throw was high and wide, and it also allowed Gordon to take second.
After Hanley’s grounder to short failed to score anyone with the Washington infield playing up, Adrian Gonzalez’s infield single to short scored both runs. Desmond bobbled the ball and then threw the ball 20 feet over catcher Wilson Ramos’s head to allow Kershaw and Gordon to score.
The Dodgers plated two more runs in the bottom of the sixth, as Fister began to tire. Crawford singled to right, and then Uribe slugged a line drive home run over the left field wall. His seventh home run put the Dodgers up by a score of 4-0.
That was more than enough with Kershaw on the mound. After allowing the home run to Harper, Kershaw pitched the eighth inning, picking up his eighth whiff of the night on Tyler Moore to end the frame. Kenley Jansen whiffed three consecutive batters in the top of the ninth to secure the win and earn his 39 save of the season.
Oh don’t worry I haven’t forgotten about Pederson. I know it’s what everyone wants to see, so here it is, his first major league hit.
The PCL MVP went 1 for 4 with a single in the second, a strikeout in the fourth, he walked in the sixth, and then grounded to short in the eighth. The Dodger offense scored four runs on eleven hits, and was 2 for 8 with runners in scoring position. Gonzo was 2 for 3 with two singles, and an RBI. Crawford had two hits, and A.J. Ellis had two hits as well. Hanley had a tough night going 0 for 4 with four ground outs.
With the win, the Dodgers improve to 78-61 on the season and stay two games ahead of the Giants. They won again, beating Colorado at Coors Field. Colorado is totally useless.
That win was important because Carlos Frias is pitching tomorrow, and let’s be honest, that’s going to be an automatic loss unless the Dodgers score a lot of runs.
Make sure you are up early because the series finale is a 12:10 pm business man’s special start time. Ten game winner Jordan Zimmerman will be on the mound for Washington.