Game two of the storied rivalry between the Giants (7-14) and the Dodgers saw a hard-fought battle with the difference being a throw in the dirt. Productive base running for the Dodgers (10-11) helped lead them to victory on Tuesday night at AT&T Park, as they rode the back of their ace, Clayton Kershaw, 2-1.
The home team struck first, but the stifling arm of Clayton Kershaw thwarted the bats, leaving them cold and flimsy. And when a pitcher of his caliber settles in, you wish you would’ve converted on the chances with runners in scoring position (2-for-7).
Starting pitcher Ty Blach, filling in for the injured Madison Bumgarner, kicked off the bottom of the third with a shot that reached the warning track in left-center field. He’s is now batting .600 (3-for-5) against the three-time Cy Young Award winner. And after an infield hit from hotfoot Hunter Pence, Buster Posey poked one up the middle, pushing Blach across the plate for the first run of the game, 1-0.
“Before the game, Madison (Bumgarner) came up and said: ‘he’s probably going to throw you up-and-in since he threw you away last time,’” Blach said. “So I was kind of looking for a pitch in that vicinity and luckily he threw it there.”
The left-hander who retained his rookie status, despite his late-season go with the Giants last year, held the Dodgers scoreless through 11 innings—dating back to October 1 last season. A fairly minimal stat, but you know, the rivalry, all of them being against Kershaw—it’s noteworthy. His highest pitch count this season was just 25 heading into Tuesday night, where he tossed 72.
“I felt good physically, like I was able to keep the ball down in the zone,” Blach said. “I think physically working out with Carl, are strength coach, has helped me a lot. I felt confident my body would hold up.”
Blach retired nine of the 10 batters he faced through three innings. But when Cory Seager reached on four balls with no outs to open up the fourth inning, the Dodgers issued a few hits that put them on the board, including an Adrian Gonzalez RBI grounder to Buster Posey at first base. With runners on the corners, the Giants all-star appeared to give Justin Turner considerable operating room, though manager Bruce Bochy saw it differently, when deciding to throw to second base.
“He did the right thing and looked the runner back,” said manager Bruce Bochy, before touching on Brandon Crawford’s short-hop throw. “If the throw was on the money we would’ve had Turner.”
The next trip out went a little smoother. Blach retired three of the four he faced and showed off his prized fielding—Rawlings minor league Gold Glove Award winner in 2015. With the lead-off batter in scoring position, and Cory Gearrin ready in the bullpen, Bochy visited the mound. He kept him in. A move that did well for Blach’s confidence, as he went on to record the next out. He gave up four hits and two runs while striking out two in five innings pitched.
Blach’s opponent found a groove and he was dealing. Beginning in the fourth inning, Kershaw retired 12 out of 13 batters he faced until Gorkys Hernandez pinch hit in the pitchers spot and put one in left field. Kershaw owned seven strikeouts in equal innings, and exited having gave up just one run.
“Kershaw did what elite pitchers do: he turned it up a notch,” manager Bruce Bochy said. “He settled in and he was as tough as he normally is. All you can do is hope you make some chances. And we had chances.”
The new, highly-rated call-up, Christian Arroyo, took the first pitch he saw, a 93 MPH fastball, from one of the most dominant arms in the game into left field for his first hit as a big leaguer. Nothing came of it, as the Giants left him stranded on second base. And Arroyo struggled moving forward, striking out his next two times and grounding out another.
“I figured maybe he’d (Kershaw) come at me, I said, ‘hey man, lets see a heater and take a good swing at it,” Arroyo said, whose family, including his two younger siblings, sat proudly in the stands.
With two outs in the eighth inning, Dave Roberts called on his $80 million dollar closer, Kenley Jansen, to get four outs. Posey got on, and Crawford followed, but had to be taken out due to a right groin sprain. He’s listed as day-to-day, but is set to go on the bereavement list for three days starting tomorrow. The team hopes to get him an MRI before he leaves.
“It just felt tight, but I didn’t feel a pop,” Crawford said, who took a hard, intent round before putting on the breaks and heading back to first.
Jansen did his job. First by striking out a pinch-hitting Brandon Belt and then taking down the Giants in order to close out the bout. With the series tied at one, the Giants head into tomorrow’s game with Johnny Cueto on the mound against Alex Wood.