(CY) Young Clayton Kershaw Gets 20th Win, Spoils Giants' Hopes
Clayton Kershaw looked dejected. With his head bowed down in the dugout after making 115 pitches against the San Francisco Giants, the two walks he gave up in the eighth inning loomed large. They were what stood in the way between him and the first Dodger 20-game winner since Ramon Martinez did it on October 1, 1990.
“I was frustrated I couldn’t get out of the eighth inning,” Kershaw said.
The Dodgers had the precarious 2-1 lead, but the Giants had runners on first and second with one out. The Giants were looking to stay in both the wild card and NL West divisional hunt. And in came reliever Kenley Jansen relishing the moment.
“I love coming into situations like that,” Jansen said. “When you’re up by one, it’s fun to pitch in games like that. You just go get them, try and be aggressive.”
Jansen made pinch-hitter Pablo Sandoval look helpless on three pitches striking him out. Then after throwing a 0-2 cutter that landed just outside, Jansen brought the next pitch over the plate paralyzing Carlos Beltran.
“I didn’t try to cut anything,” Jansen recollected. “I just tried to throw the fastball and let the movement do its job.”
Kershaw’s dejection turned into relief as the Dodgers made their way back to the dugout embracing Jansen with a smile.
“Kenley was unbelievable,” Kershaw remarked. “I’m in awe of him. Tonight you saw his command. Beltran couldn’t even get the bat off his shoulders because he couldn’t do anything with those pitches.”
For one of the few times this season, the Dodger Stadium crowd were on their feet cheering their heads off. True the announced attendance was only 32,526, but after a season of yawns the cheers from this crowd made it sound like the Dodgers were contenders.
And like that Kershaw won the Cy Young Award.
“If this boy doesn’t win the Cy Young, something’s wrong,” MVP candidate Matt Kemp echoed.
And something would be wrong if he didn’t. Kershaw made only one mistake to the Giants all night long, a fastball out in the middle of the plate to catcher Chris Stewart in the eighth inning.
“Everytime I shook [catcher Rod Barajas] they got a hit,” Kershaw said.
Closer Javy Guerra came into the ninth inning fully aware of what the situation was.
“Everyone in the ballpark knew. You saw the performance he gave - he pitched his butt off.”
It all could have easily fallen apart after the grounder he fielded off of Mark DeRosa’s bat pulled James Loney off of first base.
“I didn’t want to throw it away, so I just tried to give it a valiant effort. I just made a bad throw.”
But Guerra maintained his calm getting Brett Pill to fly to right field and pinch-hitter Aubrey Huff to ground into a double play to end the game.
“I just really bear down. You know the guy’s worked so hard. You really want to shut that door for him.”
Kershaw tied Ian Kennedy for the National League leading 20 wins. He leads the National League outright with 242 strikeouts and 2.27 ERA. He holds a 4-0 record over two-time Cy Young winner Tim Lincecum this season alone. He became the first Dodger since Vic Lombardi in 1946 to go 5-0 against the Giants in a season.
“The whole body of work has been tremendous,” Manager Don Mattingly said. “The kid has been great all year, and he has been doing this every time out. His performances speak for themselves. I don’t think we need to politick for him.”
Mattingly however did warn that there are people in Arizona and Philadelphia who would say otherwise.
“I see him every five days, so I’m prejudiced.”
Not only did the Kershaw help spoil the Giants’ slim playoff hopes. “Yeah, that’s a shame,” he said. But the Dodgers are now 77-76, the first time they have had a winning record since April 29.
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