MIAMI -- It's a sign of the baseball times here in Miami -- and the early start to Thursday’s game didn't help -- that it took so much promotion to draw such a sparse crowd to the park to watch Clayton Kershaw’s latest gem.
But for $5 and whatever it costs to park nearby, you could see the National League’s leader in just about every pitching category do what he’s been doing all year. He shut out the Marlins over eight strong innings to lead the Dodgers to a breezy 6-0 win in the final game of this four-game series.
The Marlins managed just five hits off the Dodgers' ace as he pitched into the eighth inning for the 12th time this season and lowered his ERA to a major league-best 1.72. According to the Elias Sports Bureau, only four pitchers since 1980 have posted an ERA as low as Kershaw’s at least 25 starts into the season (Dwight Gooden, 1985; Greg Maddux, 1994, 1995, 1998; Roger Clemens, 1997, 2005; and Pedro Martinez, 1997, 2000).
“He kind of gets himself into routines and he’s just marching onward all the time. One start’s over and he’s on to the next one. That one’s over and it’s time to start the next process,” Dodgers manager Don Mattingly said of Kershaw.
“What I enjoy with Clayton is that it’s every pitch, every batter, no matter what the score is, he attacks, he’s focused, he’s not wanting to make one bad pitch, not wanting to let any runners on. He just wants to execute, execute, execute. That’s tough to do over a long season. He’s a machine.”
Kershaw also helped his cause at the plate, driving in the first run of the game in the fourth inning with a two-out, bases-loaded single to left to score Yasiel Puig, who doubled to lead off the inning. The next batter, Carl Crawford, drove in two runs to stake Kershaw to an early 3-0 lead. The Dodgers tacked on two more runs with two outs in the fifth on an RBI double by A.J. Ellis and an RBI single by Skip Schumaker.
Puig was back in the lineup Thursday and batting cleanup after experiencing dehydration and cramping in his legs Wednesday night. Mattingly said Puig received IV fluids after the game Wednesday.
Kershaw was so dominant, it finally gave Mattingly a comfortable spot to bring on former Giants closer Brian Wilson for his Dodgers debut with a six-run lead in the bottom of the ninth inning. Wilson struck out the first batter he faced, Giancarlo Stanton, got Logan Morrison to ground out to second base, gave up a double to pinch hitter Greg Dobbs, and struck out Justin Ruggiano to end the game.
The Dodgers return home to open a three-game set with the Boston Red Sox beginning Friday. L.A. has gone a major league-best 28-5 since the All-Star break and has won 22 of its past 25 road games.