What a game. I don’t know if either of these teams will have anything left tomorrow. It began with both starters giving the teams what they needed after last night’s epic, each going seven shutout innings. Clayton Kershaw for the Dodgers was a little better than Kenshin Kawakami, striking out ten Braves and allowing but three baserunners. Ryan Church doubled to lead off the game, but was stranded at second as Kershaw got a popup and two strikeouts. Kawakami only struck out four, but he was rarely threatened either, until the seventh. He gave up a hit to the leadoff man, who stole second and went to third on an error; the announcers blamed Yunel for not making a play, but I don’t think he had any chance to make it, and he would have had to jump on top of the baserunner to even try, which is probably against the rules. Kawakami got a groundout with the infield in for one out, but then walked the bases loaded. He was over 110 pitches at this point, and everybody thought Bobby would come get him — but Bobby stayed on the bench, and Kawakami rallied, getting two strikeouts to end the threat. Great pitching.
The Braves’ best chance to score was in the eighth, and it wasn’t much of a chance; two out pinch-walks from KJ and Norton. Church hit a ball to deep short that almost got through; Furcal threw to third, and KJ was just tagged out. If he’d realized what the play was, he might have taken a more direct route, but he was thinking of scoring if the ball got through. Kris Medlen came on for the Braves, and he was awesome. After walking Furcal leading off the eighth, he struck out Ethier, Ramirez, and Kemp, and then threw a 1-2-3 ninth.
Thanks to Kelly Johnson, he’d get rewarded with a win. Adam LaRoche, with one out, fell behind 0-2 but did a great job working his way back and drew a walk. KJ then took a two-out, 1-1 pitch over the right field wall, giving the Braves a 2-0 lead.
But nothing’s easy for this team. Rafael Soriano, pitching for the fourth day in a row, is completely gassed; his velocity is off about five miles per hour. He gave up a leadoff single to Pierre, but then rallied, getting a flyout and a strikeout. He got 0-2 on Ethier, but couldn’t finish him off, and allowed a run-scoring double. After falling behind Ramirez, Bobby ordered the walk. Soriano got ahead of Kemp, 1-2… and Kemp hit a ground ball up the middle. It wasn’t hit that well, but at almost a perfect spot. Yunel made a tremendous diving play, which at first I thought would just preserve the tying run from scoring. But he got up, threw the ball, and got Kemp by a step. There’s not more than two or three shortstops who make that play, who have both the range and the arm. Luckily, the Braves have one of them.