It was an electric night at Dodger Stadium. Kershaw was magnificent, and Joc Pederson gave the Dodgers a 4-3 win with a 2-run walk-off home run at Jackie Robinson night.
On his first appearance of the 2019 season, after allowing a 2-run blast from his old teammate Yasiel Puig, it was the same old Clayton Kershaw . After Puig’s bomb on a hanging flat slider, Kershaw faced the minimum number of hitters per inning the rest of the way. He gave up 5 hits, and 2 earned runs courtesy of Puig’s HR.
The lefty only needed 84 pitches through 7 stellar innings, while not allowing baserunners via base on balls. He got rid of 6 Reds hitters with strikeouts.
Even though his velocity is not as explosive as it used to be, he’s converted himself into a more off-speed oriented pitcher. He relied a lot on his breaking stuff, using his fastball exclusively to set up his curveball and his variation of sliders/cutters. And the most important part, he’s always attacking the strike zone, letting you know why his pitching counts are so low most on most of his appearances.
But let’s get this thing straight, no matter what kind of pitcher he’s been turning into, Kershaw finds the way to dominate the opponents.
Puig said he was ready, and didn’t disappoint
Like every other athlete that competes against an old friend turned rival, and most importantly via trade, Puig felt prepared. He showed it with 2 hits on the night, all off Kershaw. His home run was his second of the season.
Meanwhile, another ex-Dodger had a good night for the Reds. Matt Kemp went 2 for 4 at the plate, breaking a 2-2 tie with a single to right field off Dodgers closer Kenley Jansen. Jansen had only worked for 2 1/3 innings in the last 9 days, but looked very sharp on his inning of work trying to preserve the tie, except for the Kemp at bat. After getting ahead of Kemp with a 0-2 count, Jansen’s fastball cut to the outside of the plate, with the catcher’s waiting for the delivery up out of the strike zone and into the inside corner of the zone.
In consequence, bad execution of the pitch let Kemp reach over the plate and hit it through the second base hole created by the defensive shift, which played Kemp to the left side of the diamond at the time.
Welcome back to LA!
In his first AB with the Reds in Dodgers Stadium, Yasiel Puig hits a 2R-HR off Clayton Kershaw.
— FOX Sports: MLB (@MLBONFOX) April 16, 2019
Pederson wins it
The Dodgers, who lost Cody Bellinger after getting hit on the right knee by a 95 MPH fastball from Cincinnati’s starter Luis Castillo, needed an offensive spark in the late innings. Down by one with no one out in the 9th inning, pinch hitter David Freese reached base on four balls against Reds closer Raisel Iglesias. Next, manager Dave Roberts let Joc Pederson swing the bat, instead of trying to put the tying run on second base via sacrifice bunt. Right on cue, Pederson got a 95 MPH high sinking fastball, knocking it high into the Hollywood sky, hardly reaching over the right field fence to win it for the Dodgers 4-3.
At first, Pederson thought he hit deep into the right field pavilion seats, but the ball stopped traveling. While the ball was on the air, Pederson had started his game-ending celebration already, showing himself into the Dodgers’ crowd. It was at the very last moment, that the ball had enough energy left to get out the yard, grazing the right field wall. Now it’s time to celebrate Joc!
Pederson gave Los Angeles their second win in a row, after a tough last week which saw them losing six straight.
JOC JAMS! 💪
Joc Pederson smashes a walk-off HR to give the Dodgers the win! pic.twitter.com/bYNoOLPbdD
— ESPN (@espn) April 16, 2019
Tomorrow both teams face again for the second of a three game series, with Tyler Mahle (0.82 ERA, 12 K) starting for the visiting Reds, while Kenta Maeda (4.76 ERA, 15 K) doing the honors for the home team LA Dodgers.
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