After Corey Seager’s home run ripped through the sky Tuesday evening, Dodgers catcher A.J. Ellis devised a solution for the rest of the team’s scattershot offense: A sleepover at the house containing all of the team’s promising young hitters.
“We’ve been asked: ‘When’s the next slumber party?’” Joc Pederson said after a 5-1 win over the Angels.
The primary generators of offense for these Dodgers bunk together in a house near Griffith Park. Seager shares the space with Pederson (two home runs Tuesday), Trayce Thompson (two hits) and starting pitcher Alex Wood.
The trio powered the Dodgers (21-19) past the Angels as Clayton Kershaw extended his string of dominance.
Kershaw evened the Freeway Series at one victory apiece and snapped a four-game winning streak by the Angels (17-22) He kept Mike Trout off the bases. He limited his guests to four singles and one solitary run. And his ability to miss bats remained unparalleled.
Kershaw fanned 11 Angels, his sixth consecutive start with at least 10 strikeouts. That is already a Dodgers franchise record, and an achievement accomplished by only four other men in baseball history: Nolan Ryan, Pedro Martinez, Randy Johnson and Chris Sale. The major league record is eight starts.
Kershaw improved his strikeout-to-walk ratio to 22 to 1 — 88 strikeouts and only four walks. Phil Hughes set the major league record for the Minnesota Twins in 2014 with an 11.63-to-1 mark.
“You try not to walk guys,” Kershaw said. “Hopefully, they score runs like they did today. [The Angels] strung three hits together. Hopefully that doesn’t happen very often. You have to tip your cap when that happens.”
For the Dodgers, Kershaw doubles as Atlas. The team is 8-1 when he pitches, and 13-18 otherwise. On Tuesday, at least, he received some support from his offense after the Angels took the lead in the second.
Albert Pujols led off with a single. He took second when Kershaw feigned a pickoff throw, which first-base umpire Ed Hickox declared a balk.
“I fell off balance,” Kershaw said. “I thought I stepped off in time, but I was going to balk either way, so I tried to jump off.”
Kershaw looked agape at Hickox, but he could not alter the outcome. Pujols held at third base when second baseman Johnny Giavotella punched a 94-mph fastball into center field. He traveled the next 90 feet when outfielder Shane Robinson dunked another 94-mph fastball into center.
Angels starter Jered Weaver hoped to recover after absorbing a ferocious beating in his previous outing. Weaver had given up eight runs in four innings against St. Louis. The pounding bloated his earned-run average to 6.10.
Entrusted with the lead, Weaver did not allow a hit until the bottom of the third. The Dodgers picked up a run when Trout dropped a fly ball with Chase Utley on second base. Then the young bats started to heat up.
An injury to Adrian Gonzalez’s back forced Howie Kendrick to start at first base. Manager Dave Roberts installed Kendrick in Gonzalez’s cleanup spot in the batting order even though Kendrick was hitting only .214 before Tuesday. Kendrick set the table for Pederson when he led off the fourth with a single.
Weaver’s lack of velocity is far from a secret. When he pumped an 83-mph fastball over the middle, Pederson was ready. Kole Calhoun chased the two-run shot to the right-field wall. Then he watched the ball land in the seats beyond his reach.
“Kershaw is really good,” Pederson said. “But I don’t think he minds the support. You get them when you can.”
Seager batted third for the first time in 2016. He went hitless in his first three at-bats. He broke the mini-slump when Weaver hung a curveball. Seager sent the ball screaming over the fence in right.
The home run gave Seager seven this season, which tied him with Pederson for the team lead. Pederson pulled back ahead in the eighth. He pounded a changeup from reliever A.J. Achter for home run No. 8.
The Dodgers’ No. 3 home-run hitter? That would be Thompson, with six. Roberts stopped short of declaring Thompson as his regular left fielder before the game, but Thompson reached base three more times Tuesday, and continued to build his case for playing time.
“These are three young men, they hang out together, they room together, they laugh together,” Roberts said. “They do a lot of the right things, ask a lot of the right things. They play the game the right way.”