The Los Angeles Dodgers scuttled through a three-game weekend series at Coors Field, getting swept by the last-place Colorado Rockies, which set the stage for a dramatic series of events.
Either the Dodgers would celebrate a third consecutive National League West division title — a first in franchise history — or they’d return to Los Angeles with their division lead all but gone, and feeling some heat in the form of the San Francisco Giants.
Zack Greinke and the Dodgers were unable to get the job done in Monday’s series opener. Next up was Clayton Kershaw, not a bad fallback option, but he was opposed by Madison Bumgarner.
Heading into Tuesday’s showdown between the pair of left-handed aces, the Giants had won the last five Bumgarner-Kershaw matchups, including all three this season. That changed by the end of the night however, as Kershaw dominated the Giants, and Bumgarner was chased.
After throwing a 13-strikeout, one-hit complete-game shutout, Kershaw expressed a sense of relief in clinching the division, according to Bill Plunkett of the OC Register:
If you don’t win this one, you’ve got two more (in San Francisco) and you start getting a little nervous,” Kershaw said. “You start panicking a little. It’s good to get it out of the way. We’ve still got something to play for. We’re still trying to fight the Mets for home-field advantage. But it’s kind of a sigh of relief to get it over. We weren’t playing that well. Last few innings last night, we picked it up and then this game we were on all cylinders.”
Along with the lone base hit, the other blemish on Kershaw’s otherwise remarkable line was a walk issued in the third — the same inning of Kevin Frandsen’s single. Kershaw struck out the side in the fifth, sixth and eighth innings, and retired the last 19 batters faced.
The Dodgers’ win over the Giants was reminiscent of their same accomplishment last season when they also clinched the NL West with an 8-0 victory over San Francisco in a game Kershaw started. Los Angeles is now a mere 1-7 at AT&T Park this season, but they certainly came up with the win at an opportune time.