With the Los Angeles Dodgers sputtering and in the midst of a three-game losing streak, Clayton Kershaw got his first look at the St. Louis Cardinals on Saturday night since Game 4 of the 2014 National League Division Series. On top of the intrigue that came with Kershaw facing his postseason nemesis, Yasiel Puig was activated from the disabled list and started in right field.
Peter Bourjos fouled out to open the game, then Kershaw and Matt Carpenter locked horns. The Cardinals infielder fell behind 0-2 in the count, but stayed alive long enough to get hit by a pitch on the back of his right elbow. Putting a man on base didn’t hurt the reigning National League MVP as he got Matt Holliday to ground into a 4-6-3 inning-ending double play.
Joc Pederson led off the bottom of the first with a base hit. However, just as Holliday did, Chris Heisey hit into a double play. In his first at-bat at Dodger Stadium since April 18 and first with the Dodgers since April 24, Puig went down swinging on three pitches as Jaime Garcia completed a scoreless inning.
Randal Grichuk hit a one-out single in the second, but Kershaw otherwise struck out the side. Kiké Hernandez reached on a single to right that Grichuk was half-a-step away from making a diving catch on. Garcia then struck out Jimmy Rollins swinging and got Alberto Callaspo to hit into a force out.
Kershaw opened the third by freezing Pete Kozma with a breaking ball for strike three. The left-hander’s string of strikeouts was ended by Garcia, however only because he grounded out to Rollins. Kershaw got back on the horse by getting Bourjos called out on strikes, giving him five punch-outs through three scoreless innings.
Garcia finished one shy of Kershaw’s pace when the inning closed, but struck out two of the three batters faced in the bottom of the third. Carpenter went down swinging for the first out in the fourth, which was followed by Holliday drawing a walk. Kershaw then struck out Jhonny Peralta and got Grichuk to ground out.
Carpenter was removed from the game due to a right tricep contusion in the bottom of the fourth, which brought Kolten Wong in off the bench. Wong took over at second base and Kozma moved from second to third. Meanwhile Garcia continued to do his part in the pitchers’ duel by sitting the Dodgers down in order. That included again striking out Puig, though this time he was caught looking on a borderline pitch.
CONTINUE READING: Kershaw Steamrolls Cardinals, Puig Delivers With Big Hit