In this order of importance the usual suspects Clayton Kershaw, Cory Seager, Grandal, Puig, and Jansen kept the Dodgers from getting swept at home by the league-leading Washington Nationals.
Through six innings, Kershaw had only given up a home run to Babe Zimmerman but otherwise kept the Nationals off the board. With Strasburg dealing it appeared that run would hold up for the Nationals. Strasburg had given up one hit in five innings and seemed to be in cruise control.
In the bottom of the 6th however, Clayton Kershaw did something that won’t show up in the box score unless you look real hard. Kershaw grounded out to 1st base but he forced Strasburg to throw nine pitches. Chris Taylor grounded out shortstop to 1st but he made Strasburg throw eight pitches. How that impacted Strasburg we won’t know for sure but what we do know is that the next hitter Corey Seager crushed the fourth pitch from Strasburg 412 feet to centerfield for his first home run since May 20th. With the score now tied Adrian Gonzalez struck out on a curveball that handcuffed the catcher allowing the Tortuga to reach 1st base safely. Gonzales took second on a wild pitch. The wild Tortuga was feeling it. Yazmani Grandal knew it would take more than a single to score Gonzalez so he laced a double into the LCF gap, and the Dodgers had the lead 2 – 1.
Could they hold it?
Kershaw took care of business in the 7th and after hitting for himself in the bottom of the 7th it looked like he was going to pitch the eight. Roberts had his own curveball ready and decided at the last minute to go with Pedro Baez. Baez has been great this year but every fan still holds their breath when he’s pitching in a key moment. This was a key moment. Not to disappoint his fans, Baez gave up a leadoff triple to Trea Turner. Taylor played that into a triple by getting too close to the fence and not handling the carom correctly but on the other hand, Turner hit the fence on the fly and just missed a game-tying home run.
I’ll be honest. With no outs, one of the fastest runners in baseball on 3rd, and knowing Harper and Zimmerman would get at-bats I was conceding the tying run and simply hoping they could keep it tied.
That didn’t happen. Dusty Baker allowed Raburn to hit and Baez struck him out. That was not surprising because Raburn has one skill. He can hit left-hand pitching. That is it, he can’t hit someone like Baez. It was nice of Dusty to burn an out and it was nice of Baez to make sure of that out. They still had Bryce Harper to deal with. Do you walk Harper and pitch to the hottest hitter of 2017? Maybe a few weeks ago you but this Harper was in a mini-slump so they went right at him. Harper hit it hard but the ex-3rd baseman turned pitcher Baez snagged the sharp ground ball and got Turner in a run down. It was not a picture perfect rundown but in the end, it was Baez applying the tag on Turner at home plate. Baez had made the play on both ends. Still not out of the woods, Babe Zimmerman loomed.
Kenley Jansen was on his way in. Another comebacker and the Dodgers had escaped with their 2 – 1 lead.
Of course, the Dodgers went meekly in the 8th. I don’t think they scored a run against the worst bullpen in the NL in three games. I should probably point out that Adrian Gonzalez reached on an error by Murphy and then decided to steal 2nd base. That ended as you would have expected it too.
The 9th started with Daniel Murphy slamming a shot down the line that looked like a sure double. Except that Puig patrols right field and he quickly got on it and fired to 2nd. Murphy was having none of Puig and stayed right at 1st. Jansen did his Jansen thing and three hitters later the Dodgers had salvaged the win 2 – 1.
It wasn’t easy but they got it done.