The matchup: Dodgers vs Reds (5.23.16)
Special Guest: My buddy Bruce, a hilarious young comic from the mean streets of Bakersfield. Give him a follow.
Snacks: Los Doyer Dog, Goose Island IPA, and some of Bruce’s Red Vines which were surprisingly fresh.
Giveaway: Travel pillows!
Memorable Moment: Watching Clayton Kershaw throw a two hit, complete game shutout was pretty good.
RECAP: With Kershaw on the mound, Bruce and I arrived early to watch batting practice and catch Clayton’s pregame warmup from the bullpen overlook. The only hitch in the plan was the part where the Dodgers skipped their half of BP following their 17 inning marathon in San Diego the day/night before.
Bruce worked for the Bakersfield Blaze back when they were affiliated with the Reds and shared some fun stories about Billy Hamilton and other current Reds players coming through Bakersfield on their way to the bigs. It was a great way to pass the time because other than Scott Kazmir’s quick bullpen session, this was our entertainment until Kershaw showed up.
Once Kershaw made his entrance to the bullpen, the wait became instantly worth it. This was the fifth time or so that I’ve seen him warmup and it was just as exciting as the first time. From the moment he steps onto the field to start stretching, the dude is locked in. He doesn’t say a single word. He just stares at the ground and throws fire.
And here’s a reverse angle featuring a photobomb from us courtesy of the Dodgers’ Instagram.
Aside from the Reds briefly threatening to score in their half of the first, Clayton mowed them down with merciless efficiency. The only real scare for Kershaw (as far as fans were concerned) came on the base paths when he was mildly crushed by Reds second baseman Brandon Phillips when he slid into second following a wild pitch. Clayton though had no time for heart attack inducing near misses. He got right up and motored to third following a horrible throw to second that was Reds catcher Tucker Barnhart’s first of two throwing errors on the evening.
And of course Clayton’s hustle would be rewarded by his teammates by leaving him stranded on third.
Kershaw kept things humming as such a brisk clip that the game was somehow in the seventh inning stretch in under two hours. When he took the mound in the eighth, he was only at 79 pitches which meant he had 20 to work with to pull a Maddux. He made it to the ninth with the possibility still intact but a six pitch at-bat by Zack Cozart and Billy Hamilton’s refusal to swing at the first pitch put Kershaw at the 100 pitch mark. Hamilton would fly out to end the game two pitches later.
The near miss on the Maddux added a nice jolt of excitement and makes a person wonder if Greg Maddux, now that he’s on the Dodgers’ staff, would have called to congratulate Clayton on his achievement.
On the way home, I couldn’t help but think how many pitchers out there would give their non-pitching arm to throw a single game like Kershaw’s but for him, and to the fans who’ve become spoiled by such brilliance, it was just another Monday night at the ballpark.