Kershaw’s Mortal, Offense Not Good Enough
That was some damn baseballing for sure. Clayton Kershaw, Yasiel Puig, Joc Pederson, Andrew McCutchen, Gerrit Cole ROY candidates Joc Pederson, Jung Ho Kang. In case you didn’t know, Gerrit Cole is a really damn good pitcher, like he’s a candidate for the best pitcher on the entire plante aside from the dude he faced, Cole came into the game with a 2.36 ERA/ 2.65 FIP split and for the longest time he was a notorious underperformer of his FIP, but then this year something clicked and his results started matching the stuff, so he’s a goddamn terror.
So it sure felt that the first team to score would win, and that team happened to be the Pirates on a Gregory Polanco home run in the first inning on the first pitch of the game, putting the team in a hole. Kershaw’s command was spotty all day as he gave up 4 earned runs over 6 innings. The effort wasn’t terrible, but he just couldn’t get big outs frequently enough (Chris Stewart walking with the bases loaded against Clayton?!?!?!?). It was one of his worst outings of the season and his ERA spiked all the way up to a miserable 2.51 on the year.
Thankfully Cole’s command wasn’t sharp today either and the Dodgers scored two runs on a Howie Kendrick infield single (!) in the 2nd inning after a Joc Pederson double and a Jimmy Rollins walk (Rollins stole second and came around on some heads up baserunning to score the second run of the game) all this the result of a Michael Morse attempt to play 1st base and failed miserably.
The game went back and forth, it’s rhythm akin to a playoff matchup (it could very well be a preview to what we see in October), and in the 7th inning, after a very odd sequence with Carl Crawford reaching on catchers interference, and then a stolen base, Jimmy Rollins hit a game tying double that just missed being a home run by like 2 feet, tying the game and proving every skeptic wrong about him forever.
Juan Nicasio looked dominant, striking out Andrew McCutchen and Aramis Ramirez to finish off the bottom of the 7th, and at this point the most important thing is finding reliable pitchers, not necessarily figuring out the map of the bullpen, and Nicasio being good like he’s been all year will go a long way towards that.
Unfortunately for Nicasio, he was brought out to start the 8th inning because the bullpen as a whole is a shaky mess.
After a single up the middle by Jung Ho Kang, Nicasio was relieved in favor of Luis Avilan who subsequently gave up a single to Francisco Cervelli and then walked Sean Rodriguez (who was trying to bunt), loading the bases. Thank god Chris Stewart is awful against non Kershaw type batters because he hit a one hopper to Kendrick who threw home to get the first out. Pittsburgh’s own, Neil Walker then came up and hit a groundball to Adrian Gonzalez who threw home to get Kang out at the plate. Afterwards, scoreless streak ruiner Gregory Polanco somehow grounded to AGon and Avilan escaped unscathed.
The offense didn’t do a whole lot after that, and while Jim Johnson is an okay addition to the bullpen, relievers are relievers for a reason, and that starts with the fact that if you let them throw multiple innings, they’ll implode sometimes, Johnson looked so good finishing the top of the 9th, but he walked Kang on 4 pitches to start the 10th and after a single and a mental error by #BERT, J.P. Howell came in and allowed the inevitable, a run to end the game.
Not that it wasn’t entertaining, it was playoff caliber baseball and they fought back from terrible situations in this game, but winning a game in which you only score 4 runs and you load the bases with no outs twice in separate innings is a very difficult affair.
Sure but at least there’s a game tomorrow.