Kershaw Dazzles The Reds. Dodgers 2, Reds 1

Clayton Kershaw was masterful on Friday night, giving up one run on six hits, striking out eight and walking none in eight innings while dropping his league-leading ERA to 1.96. It was Kershaw’s 10th win of the season. (Image source: http://blogs.blouinnews.com/blouinbeatsports/files/2013/05/Clayton-Kershaw-Los-Angeles-Dodgers.jpg)

Clayton Kershaw was on his game Friday night in Los Angeles, cooling off the bats of the Cincinnati Reds while improving the Dodgers’ record since the All Star Break to 7-1.

Kershaw continues his Cy Young campaign, attempting to reclaim the award he won in 2011 and made a significant run at again last season while attempting to get the Dodgers to the playoffs.  Tasked with keeping the Dodgers in first place given that the Arizona Diamondbacks were steadily increasing their lead against the San Diego Padres, Kershaw turned in another brilliant performance.

What makes Kershaw so scary isn’t his ability to turn these sorts of games in night in and night out, it’s his ability to make it routine.  Charlie Steiner called Kershaw’s method “surgical precision.”  He gets bits and pieces of the strike zone, very rarely giving hitters a pitch they can really do something with, and does this game in and game out.  He’s also figured out how to keep his pitch counts lower, allowing him to pitch into the 7th, 8th and even 9th inning of games on a more consistent basis than just about anyone else in the league.

And it’s not just that Kershaw does it, it’s how he does it.  Every one of his pitches is a potential out pitch or a potential strikeout pitch.  Especially nasty?  A fastball elevating at 94.  Curveball dropping in around 73 with a big hook that either freezes a batter or has them swinging at air.  If baseball is an art form and the sixty feet, six inches between the pitchers’ rubber and home plate are the canvas and the ball is the paint, Kershaw is the most masterful painter in the game right now, his pitches like beautiful brush strokes that very rarely miss their intended target.

Batters know what’s coming.  They just can’t hit it.

Someone who can “hit it” so to speak recently, though, has been Hanley Ramirez, and hit it he did.  In a game that was mostly about Homer Bailey and Clayton Kershaw matching each other pitch for pitch, it was Hanley Ramirez making the difference.  His home run to left in the sixth inning followed an Adrian Gonzalez single and spotted the Dodgers a 2-0 lead.

Kershaw would surrender his run in the top of the seventh.  A Brandon Phillips double and a Jay Bruce single would push across a run to make the score 2-1.  Bruce got to second on a wild pitch, but then Kershaw struck out Todd Frazier and got Zack Cozart to ground out to end the threat.

Homer Bailey got through seven innings, striking out five and walking one while giving up two runs on the Ramirez blast amongst his seven hits allowed.  Bailey has not won a game since no-hitting the San Francisco Giants on July 2nd.

Kershaw, however, hit for himself in the bottom of the seventh and came out for the eighth, allowing a double but otherwise managing to shut the Reds down.  Kershaw left after 8 innings having given up one run on six hits, striking out eight and walking none while lowering his league-leading ERA to 1.96.

Kenley Jansen struck out two batters in the ninth inning, including Jay Bruce to end the game, to pick up the save.

Kershaw is the winner, extending his record to 10-6 on the season.  Homer Bailey picks up a hard-luck loss, he falls to 5-10 on the season.  Kenley Jansen gets the save, his 13th of the season.

Game three of this four game set is tonight at Dodger Stadium at 6:10 p.m.  Please note the hour earlier than usual start time as arriving at normal game time will probably get you to the ballpark around the end of the third inning, and we wouldn’t want our readers to miss a single pitch!  Hyun-Jin Ryu (8-3, 3.25 ERA) takes on Bronson Arroyo (9-7, 3.19 ERA.)  The game is reportedly well-sold once again, so please have patience getting into the ballpark tonight.

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