Zack Greinke’s 2-run home run - September 13, 2014
NL West Showdown — The Los Angeles Dodgers head to AT&T Park for a three game series agains their division rivals, the San Francisco Giants. With the regular season quickly coming to a close, the Dodgers currently lead the division while the Giants are trailing close behind. Both teams are putting up their best pitchers this weekend: Madison Bumgarner against Hyun-jin Ryu on Friday, Tim Hudson against Zack Greinke on Saturday, and Yusmeiro Petit against Clayton Kershaw on Sunday.
Mike Trout & Clayton Kershaw | Two in a Million
As I noted in my recap post last night, it’s looking more and more likely that Clayton Kershaw is going to end this season with a sub-2 ERA for the second year in a row. Last year, his ERA was 1.83; this year, with maybe 3 starts remaining, it’s sitting at 1.67.
So, naturally, I started wondering about pitchers who have posted consecutive seasons with an ERA below 2. It’s gotta be pretty unusual, right?
Indeed, it’s been done a mere 3 times in the live ball era (1920-present day). Listed below are those who accomplished that feat:
- Hal Newhouser, 1945 (1.81) and 1946 (1.94)
- Sandy Koufax, 1963 (1.88) and 1964 (1.74)
- Greg Maddux, 1994 (1.56) and 1995 (1.63)
Honorable mention goes to Grover Cleveland (“Pete”) Alexander, who had a sub-2 ERA for 6 consecutive seasons, from 1915 through 1920. Only one of those years falls into the time frame that I was interested in, but it seemed like it was worth noting anyway.
Final score: San Diego Padres, 4 @ Los Angeles Dodgers, 9
Clayton Kershaw. That guy sure is good at throwing baseballs.
He’s done a lot of amazing stuff this season, but I think my favorite Kershaw stat is that in 13 of his 24 starts, he’s gone 8 or more innings (including his 6 complete games). That indicates that he’s been efficient as well as dominant, but it’s also huge for allowing a shaky Dodger bullpen to rest (and to spare us from having to watch them). (Consider that, MVP voters, why don’t you?)
You know what else I like, though? That Kershaw, with 210 strikeouts on the season, is only 5 K’s behind the NL leader, Stephen Strasburg (215). Kershaw won’t catch up to other pitchers in innings, and yet he still has as good a shot as anyone at being the strikeout king.
And that ERA (!) which, after tonight’s game, sits at 1.67 (!!). With maybe 3 starts remaining, it’s looking more and more like he’s going to post his second consecutive season with an ERA under 2.00. (Just gonna note here that Sandy Koufax’s best single-season ERA was 1.73, and that was from a 15-inch mound.)
And that’s not even getting into stats like his K/BB (7.78) and his WHIP (0.82) or his advanced stats like ERA+ (greater than 200) and WAR (> 6.0). (Those are all National League-leading, and save for K/BB, MLB-leading.)
Kershaw apparently really wanted to come out for the 9th inning to get the complete game, but Don Mattingly wouldn’t let him; instead, Pedro Baez pitched the final frame, and looked pretty good, striking out 2 (though he did also serve up a towering home run that went halfway up the right field bleachers).
Oh, and the Dodgers scored 9 runs, which was also cool. Juan Uribe hit an opposite-field dinger that landed just fair in the right field seats, and Carl Crawford hit a 3-run blast off a lefty. Hanley Ramirez went 4-for-5 with a pair of RBIs and a run scored.
There was also this play, which I can only laugh at it because it came with a 7-run lead. If there was ever a clip begging to be set to “Yakety Sax,” it’s this one.
You’ll forgive me if I’m not nearly as excited to talk about the offense on a night when Kershaw’s on the mound, because more often than not, he steals the show, and boy, is there a LOT that can be said about him. But it’s also nice than his offense backed him up (even if his defense left something to be desired).
For completeness’s sake, I’m gonna take the opportunity to note here that I was at the game on 8/20 (Zack Greinke bobblehead night), but it was a bad game so I didn’t feel like posting about it then.
His trip to Kansas City included a team-mandated tour of the Negro Leagues Baseball Museum. All of the Royals prospects invited to Kansas City went on the tour—there were probably 10 or 15 players. Buck O’Neil led the tour, told a couple of stories, and so on. And what I remember is that Greinke seemed more obviously moved by the museum than anyone else. He seemed to stop at every picture and wordlessly study it for a few beats longer than anyone else. Over time, the tour moved ahead, but Greinke never tried to catch up. He stayed back. He took it all in. Or anyway, that’s how it looked to me.
'Excuse me Zack,' a television reporter began. 'Can we get a few minutes?'
'Um,' Greinke said, and he looked up at the ceiling. 'No. This is not a good time. I don’t really feel like it…'
Doing some research on Dodger Stadium in the 1960s, I came across the above photo on Flickr. For those who can’t make out the text, it reads:
5/12/62 - Los Angeles: Herald-Examiner reporter Jim Bennet makes like a would-be spectator in the exclusive Stadium club dugout-level seats as seats, players dugout and field were all covered with water when a large main broke early 5/12. A Los Angeles team may experience it’s [sic] first postponed at home game as a result of the accident. The Angels are scheduled to meet the White Sox tonight and officials hope the field may dry in time.
(I needn’t remind anyone that the Angels called Dodger Stadium home from 1962 to 1965, right?)
I’d personally never heard of such a flooding. I suppose that’s because there’s not actually much of a story to it. The game managed to be played as scheduled, although “use of the 200 dugout seats for the game was out:”
Obtained via ProQuest Historical Newspapers: Los Angeles Times (1881-1990)
As you can see, the Los Angeles Times deemed the story worthy of simply that 9-sentence blurb, relatively hidden on the fourth page of the Sports section (though the flood is also mentioned briefly in the recap of the Angels/White Sox game, as the field was “made playable…by unloading 82 tons of dirt during the day”).
|—||Mo’Ne Davis, first female pitcher to win a game in LLWS history, when asked to compare herself to major leaguers (x)|
What doesn’t Clayton Kershaw do well?
Air Puig takes flight.