That’s all the simple math needed to deconstruct a 6-1 Dodger demolition Wednesday afternoon at AT&T Park. Los Angeles sliced the San Francisco Giants’ win streak at five games, but at the hands of a worthy opponent in Kershaw (W, 7-2, 2.15 ERA), who was dang-near un-hittable according to Buster Posey:
“I think pretty good might be an understatement.”
Kershaw faced the minimum through 4 innings. He was stalled ever so briefly by a Justin Ruggiano single, but a double-play ball ended it, and the Dodgers ace went on to retire all but two additional Giants in 7 shutout innings. Said manager Bruce Bochy:
“When he’s on top of his game, you got your hands full.”
Denard Span, Brandon Belt and Brandon Crawford got the Kershaw day off, given the well-documented difficulties he brings to Giants’ lefty bats (beyond those he brings to right-handers). Belt is a career .059 against him, Crawford .125 and Span hitless in 13 tries. Bochy has said that he plans Belt days off in partial accordance with Kershaw day, but those bats were noticeably missing.
The Giants (17-25) beat Kershaw once this year on the back of Hunter Pence and Posey homers. But a lineup designed around that kind of potential production would get nothing this time around. Everything the ace of aces hurled was crisp, especially his slider, making it a moral victory for the home team that he whiffed just five.
Yasmani Grandal dug an 0-2 slider into the Levi’s Landing bricks for a two-run RBI double in the first, burying Cueto (L, 4-3, 4.50 ERA) in an early hole. But it was a play made even more frustrating given the pitch that got him there, he said:
“The pitch was good. … I didn’t think he was going to be able to hit that ball.”
“That was really what set him back — a couple of two out, two strike pitches. He almost got out of it. .. There’s a fine line between winning and losing. They got the key hits.”
Yasiel Puig added one of those key hits in the sixth, singling with two strikes against him for another two-run RBI, giving the Dodgers a 5-0 lead.
Cueto wasn’t his sharpest, Posey went so far to say, and started to show some frustration after a high fastball blown by Grandal’s neck and to the backstop scored Chase Utley for the Dodgers’ third run. Grandal and Cueto had words once the inning ended, spurring a mini bench-clearing discussion. Grandal was angry about the pitch, and Cueto assured him it was not intentional.
Cueto struck out six over his 6 innings, but had something else to note about the altercation:
“I’m not gonna use this as an excuse, but they were stealing signs.”
Perhaps Grandal was signaling something when he was on second. But Bochy said the “brawl” was nothing to fret over:
“Really wasn’t a big deal, just two teams that have had their battles … a little jawing going on, not uncommon in our game.”
Eduardo Nunez gave the fans what little they had to cheer about in the ninth, blasting a solo shot off Sergio Romo to prevent the shutout and extend the Giants’ home run streak to 10 games, matching the club’s longest such streak since last April.
The Giants finished the home stand 5-2, their best of the year. The clubhouse mood is chipper, the panic present just weeks ago seems to have dissipated into a calm.
The Giants will travel to St. Louis for a three game series with the Cardinals (21-16) before taking on the reigning world champion Chicago Cubs (19-19) at Wrigley Field. The Giants have won 11 of their 17 victories at home and the pitching staff has accumulated a 3.13 ERA at home, contrasted with a 5.82 ERA away.