Review and Preview Number 3

You know, it’s much easier to write these when the Dodgers win.

Yes, the Dodgers shutout the Milwaukee Brewers last night, winning 3-0.  On Clayton Kershaw Bobblehead Night, Hiroki Kuroda went out and pitched much like Kershaw himself, going 7 and 2/3 innings, striking out 7, and only walking 2.  Oddly enough, he actually had his first career balk too.  Kenley Jansen came in and got the last out of the 8th inning (although he certainly made it as tense as possible by throwing 7 straight balls, walking Prince Fielder and almost waking Casey McGehee), and Matt Gurrier came in and pitched a shutout 9th, earning his first save of the season.  If the season were to end today, or if he never earns another save this year, he would have exactly 1 save in each of the past 5 years.  One of those odd statistics that makes Baseball incredibly entertaining/maddening, depending on who you are.

You’re probably wondering how the Dodgers actually scored runs aren’t you?  In the first inning, Andre Ethier drew a walk against former Dodger Randy Wolf, and Matt Kemp, who was previously 0-5 against Wolf (with every one of those At Bats resulting in a Strikeout) came up and hit a Home Run to Right Field.  Kemp after the game said that he was aware that he had struck out 5 times in 5 at bats against Wolf before, so I’m sure that felt really good for Matt.  The last run came in the 8th inning, when Jerry Sands hit a double off the wall in Right Field that allowed Juan Uribe to score from first.  Sands is a guy who’s basically platooning in Left Field with Jay Gibbons at this point, but I’m really hoping he gets it together, as this team could use an offensive boost.  Even if he doesn’t reach the 30+ Home Run power he showed in the minors, a guy who hits a ton of doubles and 20ish Home Runs would be very useful in this offense.  He’s also shown pretty good plate discipline for a guy who struck out as much as he did in the minors.  I do think he was called up too early, (considering that he was playing in Low-A last year at this time), but as long as he’s here, he should get the majority of the starts.

The trend of great defense continued in this game as well.  After Carlos Gomez and Jay Gibbons made a couple of spectacular catches two nights ago, Matt Kemp made a couple of great catches last night.  He was able to track down two deep fly balls and make great catches at the wall.  The first was a shot hit by Casey McGehee, that would have been off the wall in Right Center Field and would have probably scored two runs, and the other was a deep shot to Center Field by Prince Fielder, which Kemp tracked down and caught in the warning track.  That hit would have scored Rickie Weeks from first base.  It’s conceivable to say that Kemp’s defense saved at least three runs from scoring, and between his defense and home run, he nearly won the game for the Dodgers on his own.

The pitching was very encouraging too.  From the start of the season, it was clear to most fans that the pitching of this team would be the strength.  A few Bullpen disasters and poor early starts from a couple of the starting pitchers likely left many fans wondering if this team would be able to win at all.  The bullpen has stabilized for the most part, slowly turning into the consistent, dominating force we expected it to be at the start of the year, and that’s even with Broxton, Kuo, and Hawksworth out, as well as Belisario being lost somewhere in Venezuela.  Padilla has been a very good makeshift closer, Gurrier has had a couple bad 8th innings, but he’s otherwise been solid, MacDougal has been better than expected, Elbert has stepped in nicely, Guerra pitched a good inning, and Jansen has gotten over what ever plagued him in his first outing of the season as well.  This team has arms it can turn too, which is probably the most encouraging thing for both Don Mattingly, and Ned Coletti (and by extension, the fans of this team, lest we trade away a top prospect for a middle reliever again.)  The starting pitching, as I said in yesterday’s R&P, has been amazing as well.  See how much more optimistic I am after a win?

As for the Preview, the Dodgers will play a quick two game series with the World Champion San Francisco Giants, starting tonight with Clayton Kershaw vs. Matt Cain.  In  years past, I would have called this a relatively easy win for the Dodgers, as Cain had never been able to beat LA.  Since the vague time period of years past though, Cain has been pretty good against the Dodgers.  This year, he shut them out in the third game of the season, and in his last start last year, he shut them out over 7 innings.  While a couple of the current Dodgers have hit him well over their careers (Andre Ethier and James Loney), one of them is in the middle of a slump, and the other is in the middle of losing his job.  Cain doesn’t really seem like the pitcher you bust out of a slump against, especially considering that he’s a flyball pitcher, and the Baseballs don’t fly too well in the cold nights of Dodger Stadium.  I’ll say he goes 7.1 innings and allows one earned run, and one unearned run, because the Giants defense is beyond awful.

Luckily for us, Clayton Kerhsaw is pitching.  So those two runs of offense will be enough.  Kershaw has been nothing short of magnificent against the Giants this year.  In two starts, he’s thrown 13.2 shutout innings, with 16 strikeouts compared to just three walks.  He’s only allowed 10 hits, so he’s allowed just less than one baserunner per inning, which is really really good.  I don’t see any reason why this Giants lineup (particularly one that’s missing one Pablo Sandoval) will score against Kershaw, so I’ll peg him for 8 shutout innings with 10 strikeouts and 2 walks.  It really is a treat to get to watch Kershaw pitch in his starts, and I’m really looking forward to tonights start.

So there you have it, today’s Review and Preview.

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