By Jon Weisman
You’ve got Clayton Kershaw on the mound. You just want that big hit.
With two out in the sixth inning, 10 Dodgers had reached base, but that critical blow remained but a dream.
Then, Scott Van Slyke made Dodger wishes come true, following singles by Adrian Gonzalez and Howie Kendrick with a 405-foot, three-run homer to left to give the Dodgers their first lead. Kershaw made it stand up for his 7 1/3 innings and 11 strikeouts, and Joe Blanton and Kenley Jansen closed the doors and windows for a 3-2 Dodger victory at Arizona.
For Jansen, it was his 161st career save, tying the Dodger franchise record set by Eric Gagne. Jansen’s first career save was July 25, 2010, to protect a win for … Clayton Kershaw.
Kershaw struck out at least 10 and walked no more than one, for the ninth time this season. Curt Schilling holds the MLB record with 13 such games in 2002.
The lefty did allow two runs, and was relieved not to allow three. Rickie Weeks homered to lead off the bottom of the second, and two outs after Michael Bourn singled in the sixth, Paul Goldschmidt missed tying the game by an inch, hitting a 112 mph drive off the yellow stripe atop the fence in left that ended up as an RBI single.
Kershaw’s lone walk of the day stunned him and his fan base. No doubt, Kershaw has at some point thrown a pitch out in the ball zone that gets called a strike. But the full-count pitch that led to his seventh walk of the season left everyone except the umpire agog — not least because it really is called a strike 98 percent of the time.
— Dodgers Strike Zone (@DodgersUmp) June 15, 2016
Late in the game, another pitch called a ball literally left a vexed Kershaw jumping into the air in disbelief. Nevertheless, Kershaw left the game with the lead, and when he was pulled after 104 pitches, his ERA sat at 1.58.
With one out in the bottom of the eighth and the bases empty, Joe Blanton entered, and would have had an easy time of it if not for a two-out error by Corey Seager on a Brandon Drury grounder. That brought up Goldschmidt as the potential winning run. Blanton never gave in to him, pounding the ball on the outside edge. Goldschmidt fouled off four of ’em, before hitting the eighth pitch of the at-bat mildly to Seager for a force out.
Jansen then pitched a perfect ninth to reach his date with Gagnestiny.