Last night the Texas Rangers won their third game in a row against the Los Angeles Dodgers and their MVP winning pitcher Clayton Kershaw, this time winning by a score of 5-3. While the Dodgers do not usually lose when Kershaw is on the mound, the Rangers ended the pitcher’s streak of allowing three or fewer runs in thirty consecutive starts. That is an extremely impressive streak. Everytime he goes out there at home, the Dodgers have a great chance to win because of how dominant he has been. Steve Busby also mentioned that he averages 13.28 strikeouts per 9 innings at home this season. To say that Kershaw is anything less than phenomenal seems like an understatement. So how did the Rangers beat him last night?
Jun 17, 2015; Los Angeles, CA, USA; Los Angeles Dodgers starting pitcherClayton Kershaw
(22)walks back to the dugout after the fourth inning of the game against the Texas Rangers at Dodger Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports
It all started in the second inning with a double hit off of the bat of Prince Fielder. Kershaw threw a fastball to the lefty that stayed high in the zone and Fielder shortened up his swing to be able to get around on it and drove it into the gap. Adam Rosales then hit what should have been a routine grounder to shortstop, but Prince screened the Dodger shortstop and allowed it to go through. Rougned Odor then flared a ball into center that allowed Prince to score before Rosales was retired 8-4. These are the types of innings that don’t happen against Kershaw. He will give up a couple of hits in a row to let a run cross, but he rarely allows bad luck runs to score, especially with two left handed hitters at the plate.
Wandy Rodriguez led off the third inning with a base hit off of Kershaw. You could see Kershaw’s frustration building when Rodriguez reached. He cooled off and struck out the next two batters before Joey Gallo stepped to the plate. Gallo unloaded on a slider that caught a lot of home plate and hit a tape measure home run. Kershaw had a meltdown in the dugout after the inning. Prince almost took the next pitch out to center field, but just missed on his pitch.
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Adam Rosales led off the fourth by striking out and reaching on a passed ball that stuck under catcher A.J. Ellis. Rosales did what the Rangers were doing so effectively last night and took off on first movement. Kershaw then balked him over to second base and Odor followed by knocking a base hit to center and scoring Rosales. Kershaw would go on to call this the “most frustrating game” he has ever pitched because of this sequence. He also said that this game was a picture of the Dodgers right now. They have certainly been sliding since the beginning of the two game series in Arlington.
The Rangers would give up three runs but Sam Freeman stepped up and retired five straight batters while touching 97 MPH. He looked good last night. Fielder would tack on another run by swatting an opposite field home run on a 3-0 pitch for the 299th of his career. Keone Kela recorded his first career save for the team.
This game must be some kind of fluke, right? It’s not. Kershaw was filthy on the mound. All of his pitches, with the exception of the one that he threw to Gallo in the third, looked crisp and he was hitting his spots in the mid 90s. He was the same old Kershaw. What was it against his hometown team? The Highland Park native seemed to get nervous when Wandy was able to knock that base hit. Kershaw is a pitcher that feasts on weak hitters. Allowing a weak hit to a pitcher got him frustrated. When Gallo launched his 493 foot moon shot was when everything came unraveled.
So what does this mean for the Rangers? It means that the offense, without Adrian Beltre and Josh Hamilton, is good enough to beat any pitcher in baseball. This is not the rag tag team that they had last season. While most people wouldn’t be able to tell you who has been starting at second, or probably even at first all season, this team of underdogs can win. It took them a while to put it together, but they are for real. Beating Kershaw was the crowning moment of this team. They’re ready.