The big series for the weekend in Major League Baseball was the defending champion Los Angeles Dodgers against their hopeful NL West rival San Diego Padres. Friday night's game was crazy and went late. Saturday, we were treated to a duel between aces Clayton Kershaw and Yu Darvish. There were also some fireworks over a controversial call. The first run scored in the 2-0 Dodgers win was absurd, just as the final out was. We'll get to all that.
This thing was all about the pitching until the final play of the game.
Darvish threw four no-hit innings. Kershaw was matching him zero for zero in the runs column. With two outs in the bottom of the fourth inning, Kershaw appeared to strike Jurickson Profar out. Profar's bat, however, on a bit of a half-hearted swing clipped the glove of Dodgers catcher Austin Barnes. The umpiring crew ended up ruling catcher's interference.
Kershaw and Dodgers manager Dave Roberts pleaded their case to the crew. Meanwhile, Kershaw ended up turning around and yelling something about manure to Profar, when responded with some pleasantries of his own.
The footage of that exchange:
Kershaw eventually got out of the inning unscathed.
The top of the fifth was pretty funky in its own right. After Darvish extended his perfect game bid to 4 2/3 innings, he hit Zach McKinstry with a pitch. Luke Raley then followed with a single to center for the Dodgers' first hit. Barnes drew a walk and then the two pitchers squared off. Kershaw worked an eight-pitch walk to score the first run of the game. He fouled off three pitches and then laid off two close ones to break the scoreless tie.
It nearly ended up being the only run scored. Justin Turner's solo shot in the top of the ninth provided insurance for the Dodgers.
Both Kershaw and Darvish were great overall, but even while they were recording outs, they were both facing tough lineups that were making them work incredibly hard. As such, Kershaw was done after 98 pitches in six innings and Darvish was done after, coincidentally, 98 pitches through seven.
The final lines from the duel ...
Kershaw: 6 IP, 2 H, 0 R, 2 BB, 8 K
Darvish: 7 IP, 1 H, 1 R, 2 BB, 9 K
Darvish had one bad inning and it wasn't even that bad. Slugfests can be very fun -- because who doesn't like home runs? -- but a duel like this is just beautiful baseball. Aside from Darvish's fifth and a brief scare for Kershaw in the sixth, the two were just carving the opposition up while in complete control of the game.
Keep in mind the marathon game from Friday night and the bullpens weren't exactly well-rested. The Dodgers got good work from Jimmy Nelson, Blake Treinen and Victor Gonzalez to close it down. Of course, a Tommy Pham liner to center with two outs and runners on second and third would have tied the game, but Mookie Betts in center made the diving catch. Barely! Check it out.
Holy smokes, that's as close as it could possibly get. Slow-motion replays showed the ball on the heel of Betts' glove and avoiding contact with the grass by something like a millimeter. Ridiculous.
The Dodgers have now won 13 of 14 games since a weird opening day loss, with their only loss since coming in extra innings. They already have a 4 1/2 game lead in the NL West.