Pepper: Dodgers leave Kershaw out to dry
Posted on: April 22, 2011 10:45 am
Edited on: April 23, 2011 12:43 pm
By Matt Snyder
Seemingly lost in the shuffle of the Dodgers' extra-innings win over the Braves -- on another Matt Kemp walk-off bomb -- was how long Don Mattingly stuck with Clayton Kershaw in the ninth. I generally find that managers, especially early in the season, seem to err on the side of pulling starters early when they're throwing well. It was the complete opposite here.
Kershaw recorded two outs to begin the ninth, so he was just one out from a complete game victory. Chipper Jones singled. Dan Uggla singled but advanced to second on a throw to third base. So there are now runners on second and third in a one-run game. Kershaw had thrown 113 pitches and didn't look completely done, so I could see letting him face one more hitter.
Then he walked Freddie Freeman on six pitches. The bases were loaded, Kershaw was sitting at 119 pitches and finally -- during the Freeman at-bat -- seemed to be losing some bite on his pitches. Closer Jonathan Broxton was ready to enter. Instead, Kershaw was left in the game and allowed a two-RBI single to David Ross. So much for the lead, now the Dodgers trailed by one.
Look, it's tough to blame Mattingly for giving Kershaw some leeway. He's their best pitcher, Broxton hasn't been good and they were one out from victory. It just seemed like Kershaw was cooked and Mattingley refused to acknowledge it.
Of course, had Kershaw recorded an out we wouldn't even be talking about it. That's just the way things go in this game. It's really an illustration for how hard it is for managers to truly judge when to remove a pitcher. Think about it: had Mattingly removed Kershaw and seen Broxton lose the lead, what would we be saying?
BASEBALL TODAY: Ryan Braun is going to be in a Brewers uniform for a long time. Watch Danny Knobler discuss this and more with Lauren Shehadi on CBSSports.com's Baseball Today.
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