It was a tall task to ask that the Colorado Rockies beat the world’s best pitcher twice in the first two weeks of the 2017 season. The living legend that is Clayton Kershaw was on the docket again for Colorado, this time in his friendly confines at Dodger Stadium, and this time he wouldn’t let the Rockies get to him.
Kershaw came into the game with a record of 10-2 and a 1.46 ERA when facing the Rockies at home, and though the boys in purple managed to get two runs (more than the average) off the Dodgers ace, it just wasn’t enough, resulting in a 4-2 loss.
The Rockies loaded the bases before Kershaw recorded an out in the first. Charlie Blackmon drew the lead-off walk and DJ LeMahieu and Nolan Arenado followed with line-drive singles. Kershaw struck out Carlos Gonzalez who has been incredibly bad at the plate in the early going.
But Mark Reynolds worked a very good at-bat, fighting off a series of tough pitches before sending a deep sacrifice fly to right field, scoring the game’s first run. Kershaw bounced right back to strike out Gerardo Parra and that was all the Rockies would get out of the bases-loaded-nobody-out-situation.
That certainly came back to bite them. In fact, it did so immediately when Scott Van Slyke tied the game in the second on a solo home run, his first of the year.
After that, Kershaw and Tyler Anderson traded blank frames until the Dodgers finally got after the Rockies lefty in the fifth.
Chris Taylor led off with a double to left then Anderson mishandled a Kershaw sac bunt. His indecision on which base to throw the ball led to an error and gave the Dodgers runners at first and third with nobody out. Enrique Hernandez lined a double down the left-field line and Corey Seager hit a groundball single past a diving LeMahieu to make it 3-1, Los Angeles. It appeared the Rockies would escape any further damage when Adrian Gonzalez ground to shortstop Trevor Story, but an iffy transition meant no double play and one more run.
Anderson got Yasmani Grandal to ground out to end the inning but the damage had been done and the Dodgers took a 4-1 lead.
Anderson’s final line: 5 IP, 6 H, 2 ER, 1 BB, 5 K.
It was a better start for the southpaw than his last few outings. Obviously, he would like to have avoided that bad inning in the fifth that chased him from the game.
The Rockies got a run back in the sixth on an RBI single from Stephen Cardullo who came on to replace CarGo after he was hit by a pitch. Cardullo’s hit scored LeMahieu who led off the inning with a double and moved to third on a deep flyout from Arenado. Cardullo now has one more RBI on the season than Gonzalez who has 30 more at-bats.
Kershaw finished with seven innings pitched, two runs allowed on five hits with 10 strikeouts and just the one walk.
Colorado threatened in the eighth, getting a single from Blackmon and a walk from Arenado who moved to third and first respectively on some fielder’s choices and, oddly enough, a stolen base for one of the Rockies slowest players. But fly outs from Cardullo and Mark Reynolds left the score at 4-2, though the Dodgers did need to go get closer Kenley Jansen to face Reynolds before the traditional time for a closer to enter a ballgame
Jansen stayed on through the ninth for a 1-2-3 inning, securing the win for the Dodgers.
Kershaw showed some signs of vulnerability but the Rockies couldn’t fully capitalize on early opportunities and were a little sloppy in the fifth, narrowly missing the rare opportunity to defeat one of the game’s best twice in two weeks.
Instead, the Rockies settle for the two-game split, move to 10-6 on the season and are tied with the Arizona Diamondbacks for the best record in the National League. Off day tomorrow before starting a three-game weekend set back in Denver with the San Francisco Giants.