Clayton Kershaw’s Almost Perfect Night Pushes the Dodgers Past the Angels

Angels as well as Dodgers renewed their rivalry in Southern California early Freeway series with two games in Anaheim Friday night.

Two ships passing in the night, they weren’t there.

The Dodgers are a frigate pushing for their ninth Western National League title in 10 years, with an arsenal of bats and guns that feels powerful and powerful enough to power another World Series.

The Angels are like a leaky life raft that’s been adrift for weeks, their playoff hopes shattered mostly by a bunch of hitters who lead the big leagues in strikeouts – by a lot – and watch way too often, as Tommy LaSorda once said. about Kurt Bevacua. with the addition of a swear word, as if they couldn’t get into the water if they “fell out of the boat”.

Their offense was further weakened by the loss of an injured center fielder. Mike Trout to upper back spasms, all the Angels had to contend with on Friday night was Clayton Kershawthree-time National League winner Cy Young, who is arguably the greatest pitcher in Dodgers franchise history.

They didn’t stand a chance. Not only did Kershaw get through the anemic Angels, he came within six strikeouts of a perfect game, settling for eight shutout innings in which he gave up one hit and hit six in a 9-1 win in front of a sell-out crowd of 44,648. Angel Stadium.

Kershaw turned down the first 21 batters and only needed 71 innings – 54 of them strikes – to complete seven innings, his efficiency eliminating any chance of manager Dave Roberts pulling out a southpaw, as he did after Kershaw threw seven perfect innings in his rookie season in Minnesota on April 13.

Angels right fielder Joe Adell fails to catch a Dodgers Hanser Alberto triple during the fifth inning.

Angels right fielder Joe Adell fails to catch a Dodgers Hanser Alberto triple during the fifth inning.

(Mark J. Terrill/Associated Press)

Kershaw finished seventh, eliminating American League MVP Shohei Otani with a 74 mph looped curl ball and Taylor Ward with an 86 mph slider. salute the 34-year-old pitcher.

But Luis Rengifo hit a 2-for-1 slider into left field with a double early in the eighth, ending Kershaw’s bid for baseball history—the Majors had just 23 perfect games.

“You try not to think too much about it, but yeah, after the sixth inning you feel like the crowd is getting a little bit into it, and then once the seventh inning is over and you hit the top of their order again, you feel like, maybe u you have a chance at it,” Kershaw said. “It’s just a bummer. … I really wanted to do it. I think it would be a lot of fun for everyone involved.”

Kershaw was not dominant, but he wielded his three-pitch mix perfectly – a four-seam fastball that averaged 91.2 mph, a slider at 87.2 mph, and a curve at 73.4 mph – and he hit from the first pitch to 18 of 25. bats.

He improved his record to 7-2 with a 2.13 earned run average in 12 starts, increased his chances of starting the Tuesday Night All-Star Game at Dodger Stadium, led the Dodgers to their 13th win in 15 games and sent the Angels to their 11th. th defeat. in 13 games.

Dodgers second baseman Hanser Alberto catches a fifth-inning hit from Jared Walsh of the Angels on July 15, 2022.

Dodgers second baseman Hanser Alberto catches a ball in the fifth inning that is dropped by Jared Walsh of the Angels.

(Mark J. Terrill/Associated Press)

“I know he doesn’t like the word ‘vintage’, but it was a vintage Clayton,” Roberts said. “It was just fun to watch, fun to be a part of. Is not it? Tonight he fought nothing with his serve, with his whole pitch mix. There was no stress. He repeated his pitch. He was efficient. We make plays.

“So you knew he was going to give himself a chance; it was just a question, can we get a little bit lucky? But Rengifo took a good swing and broke a perfect game.”

Kershaw, who is 9-2 with a 2.13 ERA in 16 career starts against the Angels, got three superb defensive games to keep his pursuit of excellence alive. Angels lead Michael Stefanik opened the fourth from a helicopter that appeared to be heading to the left before Justin Turner intervened. The third baseman lunged, grabbed a back arm and, from one knee, landed a one-jump hit on the first, which Freddie Freeman scooped up for an out.

With two strikeouts in fifth place, Jared Walsh sped down the line at 103.2 mph to shallow right field, where Dodgers second baseman Hanser Alberto, perfectly placed, lunged, tackling from behind. Stefanik was in the lead in seventh with a hard midfield shot that Trea Turner caught. The Dodgers shortstop got up and fired first.

Mookie Betts of The Dodgers scores a Freddie Freeman single on July 15, 2022.  On the left is angel catcher Kurt Suzuki.

Mookie Betts of the Dodgers scores Freddie Freeman’s goal in the first half. Angelcatcher Kurt Suzuki on the left.

(Mark J. Terrill/Associated Press)

“Honestly, I probably should have given up four or five hits before they got that hit in the eighth,” Kershaw said. “Today the defense played unbelievably.”

Kershaw’s line-up gave him plenty of breathing room. The Dodgers scored twice on first Angels starter Patrick Sandoval, Freeman scored an RBI single—his 14th hit in 17 at-bats since Sunday—and Justin Turner’s RBI ground out.

Sandoval avoided two jams in the second and third rounds, but his defense failed him in the fifth round with two runs. An error by third baseman Jonathan Villar led to two points, and right fielder Joe Adell spun after Alberto’s nimble hit against the wall, the ball ripped off his glove for a two-run triple and a 4-0 Dodgers lead.

The Dodgers blew the game in sixth with four runs, Freeman hit a sacrifice, Smith hit an RBI double to the left — his third of four hits — and Justin Turner hit a single with two runs to center to make it 8-0. .

“There were a lot of big ones at bat,” Roberts said. “From one to nine, we were relentless.”