Marlins chase off Clayton Kershaw, Dodgers’ rally comes up short in 8-6 loss
Clayton Kershaw slumped, his back arching forward, his hands coming to rest against his knees. He couldn’t believe it.
It could have been the pitch, the inning, the game. None of it made much sense, really.
Kershaw slowly straightened himself, then turned away from home plate. He wiped his brow. He faced the outfield. Eventually, he turned back to the plate, snapping at the new baseball thrown his way.
He needed a new ball because the last one had just been hit out of Dodger Stadium. He had just given up a three-run home run because he had walked the two batters preceding the homer.
Kershaw (1-4) is not as automatic as saying “Kershaw Day,” even against the Miami Marlins. This was beyond a blip. It was a day that went haywire in an entirely unpredictable manner.
The uneven Dodgers season lurches forward, and backward. After winning a series from Bryce Harper, Stephen Strasburg and the Washington Nationals, the Dodgers became the first team this season to lose a series to the terrible-by-design Marlins.
“Baseball’s not like basketball or football,” the Dodgers’ Cody Bellinger said. “The better team doesn’t always win.
“Obviously, we are the better team.”
In three games against the Marlins, the Dodgers scored a total of 10 runs, five in the last two at-bats of the last game. They lost on Wednesday, 8-6, falling beneath the .500 mark yet again at 11-12.
On Tuesday, manager Dave Roberts did not use All-Star closer Kenley Jansen in the ninth inning, with the score tied. The Dodgers lost. On Wednesday, Roberts did use Jansen in the ninth inning, with the Dodgers down by three runs.
Jansen gave up two unearned runs, when shortstop Corey Seager overthrew first base (an error), Seager slipped and fell while chasing a pop fly (no error) and second baseman Chase Utley overthrew first base (an error).
Those runs mattered, because the Dodgers lost by two. They rallied for three runs in the bottom of the ninth, two on a home run by Yasmani Grandal.
In the entirety of the 2016 season, Kershaw walked 11 batters, one of them intentionally. He faced 544 batters.
On Wednesday, he faced 26 batters. He walked six, none of them intentionally, more than he had walked in any start in eight years. His left fielder in that game: Manny Ramirez. His Cy Young total at that point: zero.
Kershaw summarized his performance Wednesday thusly: “I just wasn’t very good.”
He struck out the side in the first inning, but he labored to keep the game scoreless thereafter. The Marlins had the bases loaded with one out in the second inning and did not score. They had two on and two out in the third inning and did not score. They had the bases loaded with none out in the fourth inning and did not score.
All those zeroes required all that effort. Kershaw was taxed. He started the fifth inning at 85 pitches.
Roberts said Kershaw could not find the sharpness on his curve, or the command of his fastball and slider.
“It seemed like he was laboring his entire outing,” Roberts said. “He couldn’t find that rhythm. He really was out of sync.
“To his credit, he kept competing and fighting, and he was one out away from going five innings scoreless.”
With two out in the fifth, Justin Bour walked on a full count. Cameron Maybin walked on a full count too. And then Miguel Rojas — a good-field, no-hit shortstop the Dodgers included on former general manager Ned Colletti’s last roster — poked a first-pitch fastball into the left-field foul pole.
The Dodgers allowed Kershaw to complete the inning, at 112 pitches. He took a seat on the bench, watched his teammates fail to score in the bottom of the inning, then headed into the clubhouse, to start preparing for better next time.
The Dodgers arranged their rotation so Kershaw would not pitch in San Francisco this weekend but would pitch against the first-place Arizona Diamondbacks next week.
It is April. The Dodgers’ deficit is a modest five games. They have scored more than two runs for Kershaw just twice this season.
But it is difficult to envision the Dodgers turning around without this statistic turning around: Kershaw has started six games this season. The Dodgers have won two.
Follow Bill Shaikin on Twitter @BillShaikin
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