Clayton Kershaw is the best pitcher in the National League. Heck, Clayton Kershaw may be the best pitcher in the world. He throws a fourseam fastball at around 94 mph, a hard slider that is tough on lefties, the rare, but still bewildering changeup, and his infamous curveball that is just filthy for any hitter. He is the reigning Cy Young winner, an award he has won three times, and NL MVP. How is an opposing team supposed to compete with that?
The obvious choice of action for the Cardinals is to throw the perennial second place Cy Young finisher and Ace of the Cardinal pitching staff, Adam Wainwright. For the past few years the Wainwright-Kershaw battles have been the stuff of legends, the baseball fan's dream. The nearly unanimous best pitcher in the league against the man who is also respected as being at a level above his competition, but just never seems to have the fates align for him, a man that is somewhat overlooked, unless, of course, a silly throw-away comment he made to the media is being taken out of context. Tonight was meant to be the Wainwright-Kershaw matchup renewed.
Except Waino is out presumably until 2016 with a ruptured Achilles, because the pitching deities are not kind to Adam Wainwright.
Filling in for Wainwright is a man with an interesting story himself. Jaime Garcia is a left handed pitcher from Mexico with some of the most purely beautiful pitches in his repertoire, but has never been able to reach the true potential of his talent due to some of the most heart-wrenching injury misfortune this side of Chris Carpenter. After working his way back to make yet another comeback, Garcia, extremely talented, but fragile, set out to go toe-to-toe with the best pitcher in the league.
What happened next was one of the most brilliant pitching duels the Cardinals have been in this year. Watching this game was like watching Bob Ross apply paint to a canvas, each stroke with a purpose, and executed with artistic precision. For six straight innings Garcia and Kershaw matched zeros, each painting the corners of the strike zone and buckling knees with some of the most exquisite curveballs in the game. No runner made it to second base until the seventh inning, where the only scoring of the game took place.
It quickly became apparent that the first pitcher to crack just the tiniest bit would be the loser, and as wonderfully poetic a tale it would have been for Garcia to comeback from brutal injuries and pitch the best game of his career against the reigning NL MVP, that just wasn't meant to be. In the seventh, Chris Heisey doubled on a hard hit groundball just beyond the reach of third baseman Pete Kozma (more on that later). A double from Puig would make the score one to nothing. For good measure, Turner singled on a ball that deflected off Kolten Wong's glove. This deflection allowed Puig to score from second for what was ultimately an unnecessary insurance run. Garcia escaped the inning with his eighth and ninth groundballs of the night, coaxing a double play ball from Enrique Hernandez and a groundball out from Jimmy Rollins. Garcia ended his night after seven innings with six strikeouts, six hits, zero walks, and two runs. Seth Maness and Randy Choate pitched a scoreless eighth, and Kenley Janson got the save for the Dodgers.
- So it is later. Pete Kozma was playing third base because Matt Carpenter was removed from the game after being hit by a pitch in the first inning. He was diagnosed with a "right triceps contusion" and is being listed as day-to-day.
- Chances are Matt Carpenter does not outrageously alter the outcome of the game, however, as the Cardinals only managed one measly hit all night: a groundball single up the middle off the bat of Grichuk. They were able to work two walks in addition to that hit and Carpenter's HBP, though, so that is something.
- I do still feel cheated, nonetheless, as the Carpenter-Kershaw matchup is becoming must watch TV.
- Something that most likely made just a minor impact on the game result, but is still really bloody annoying: Jon Jay pinch hitting for Bourjos in the top of the ninth as opposed to Jason Heyward, a better hitter in almost every possible way. It was so obvious of a move I felt compelled to take a closer look at Jay to ensure he was not actually Heyward in disguise and this wasn't all just a clever rouse.
- I will be so happy once these 9:10pm games are over. They are just brutal.
- June 6 marked the seventy-first anniversary of the Allies storming the beaches of Normandy during WWII. Here is a video a Vin Scully discussing the Normandy landings of 1944 in a way only Vin Scully is able to.
LIL SCOOTER'S PEST OF THE GAME/HONORARY MARCO SCUTARO AWARD:
Clayton Kershaw's final line: eight innings pitched, one hit, zero runs, two walks, eleven strikeouts, and .481 WPA added on the mound.
Sunday the series will conclude with Lance Lynn going up against the other Dodger Cy Young Winner, Zack Greinke. Game time is 7:08pm CST! WOOOOOOOOOOOO I WILL ACTUALLY GET TO BED BEFORE 1:00 AM PROBABLY!