Last night the Los Angeles Dodgers beat their arch rivals, the Giants, to clinch the National League Western Division title. The Dodgers won their last three series against the Giants, winning 7 out of 9 games to take control of the division. Manager Don Mattingly lined up his two aces Zack Greinke and Clayton Kershaw to pitch in each of those series and the move paid off as the Dodgers won every game they started. This points out the challenge facing any team confronting the Dodgers in the playoffs.
The other night Greinke outpitched Giants ace Madison Bumgarner. The Dodgers used a classic formula for beating a quality pitcher. First, score in the first inning before the pitcher has a chance to settle into a rhythm. Second, hit homeruns. Good pitchers don’t make many mistakes, so it’s difficult to put together a rally comprised of multiple hits. On the rare occasions when you get a mistake pitch, hit it out. That and have your own top-notch pitcher to match up.
Last night their other All-Stars Kershaw and Yasiel Puig stepped up. Kershaw not only pitched 8 innings allowing only one run to lower his Major League leading ERA to a microscopic 1.77 with 11 more strikeouts which adds to his National League leading total of 239, but he started the Dodger offense with a triple to drive in their first run. For those who want to argue that a pitcher shouldn’t win an MVP award, consider this; with the Dodgers 23 games over .500 Kershaw has 21 wins. He also throws 7 innings or more almost every time he pitches. Think that day off for the bullpen doesn’t help the Dodgers in games the next day? With regard to Puig he hit the go ahead homerun and over the last two weeks is getting hot along with the rest of the Dodger offense and he made an amazing throw to get Blanco out at third base. The team seems to be peaking in time for the playoffs.