After yesterday’s post, I was tempted to call this one “Bums Murder Us, 4 – 0.” But let’s face it, yesterday the Giants got beat by Clayton Kershaw more than anyone else. With a 9 – 4 record and a 1.28 ERA against the Giants, the 25-year-old left-hander not only owns the orange-and-black, he plays with them like sock puppets. Three of his six career shutouts have been against the Giants. The fact that Kershaw became the first pitcher since Bob Lemon in 1953 to pitch an opening day shutout and hit a home run was just the icing on the Easy-Bake Oven cake he routinely forces down the Giants’ throats.
Everyone expected a low-scoring game with Kershaw and Matt Cain taking turns on the hill. During the first seven innings, what they actually got was a no-scoring game. Cain squirmed out of a 29-pitch first inning and back-to-back singles in the fourth by Adrian Gonzalez and Andre Ethier, but he otherwise shut the Dodgers down for six innings. Reliever George Kontos came in to turn out a perfect seventh. Meanwhile, Kershaw was doing his thing, on his way to giving up only four hits with no walks, striking out seven, and never letting a Giants runner get beyond second base.
Then came the thing no one was expecting. Kershaw led off the Dodgers’ half of the eighth, a little surprising given that the Dodgers, like the Giants, had yet to put a run on the board. But Kershaw’s pitch count was low. He had only thrown 85 pitches through eight innings. Mattingly wanted him in for the duration.
Still, who would have imagined that this pitcher, who had never hit a home run in his five-year career in the majors, would suddenly, on the very first pitch from Kontos, launch one over the wall in the deepest part of the yard, scoring the game’s first run? It was as if Kershaw were telling his touted teammates, “Here’s how you do it, boys.”
It would be the only run the Dodgers needed, even as they tacked on three more insurance runs in the inning, thanks to sloppy work by the Giants bullpen. The Giants couldn’t put a single run on the board in the top of the ninth, let alone four, and that was it. Dodgers win 4 – 0.
So what good can Giants fans take away from this opening day disappointment? Well, for one thing, it’s just one game, against a pitcher who barely seems to break a sweat whenever he faces the Giants.
And Matt Cain, let us not forget, pitched a terrific game himself. Cain went six scoreless innings, striking out eight. What’s more, he quieted the Dodgers big bats, Kemp, Gonzalez, Ethier. Kemp went 0 – 3. All three struck out against Cain, Ethier twice. Gonzalez and Ethier each got a single in the fourth but no RBIs.
The other good news is that Pablo Sandoval and Angel Pagan each got two hits and Hunter Pence took Kershaw deep twice.
Sandoval, even with the elbow problem and endless criticism about his weight, can still swing a bat against a tough pitcher.
So time to move on and think about tonight’s game. Madison Bumgarner faces off against the Dodgers’ new left-hander, Hyun-Jin Ryu. Knock on wood, the Giants will be ready for him.
The game starts at 7:10 PM (PDT).