The Washington Nationals entered tonight's game with a .200/.274/.317 line against left-handed pitchers so far in 2013, dead last in the NL in each of the three categories. They were also facing a lefty in 25-year-old, '06 Los Angeles Dodgers' 1st Round pick Clayton Kershaw, who had the lowest ERA (1.62) among left-handers in the NL, the second-lowest FIP (2.80) and second-lowest xFIP (3.14), behind only the San Francisco Giants' lefty Madison Bumgarner (2.75 FIP, 3.08 xFIP) in each amongst left-handers in the National League.
Kershaw had held left-handers to a .125/.209/.154 so far this season, with right-handers not faring much better at .188/.248/.307 on the year. The Dodgers' starter's first matchup with a left-handed bat came in the top of the first, when Adam LaRoche, the only lefty in Davey Johnson's makeshift lineup, stepped in with two on and two out after back-to-back singles by Ryan Zimmerman and Ian Desmond. LaRoched worked back from a 1-2 count and walked to load the bases for Tyler Moore, but the Nats' right-handed hitting slugger K'd swinging over a 1-2 curve to end the opening frame. The Nationals made Kershaw throw 29 pitches at least.
Dan Haren needed 13 pitches to retire the Dodgers in order in the home-half of the first.
Wilson Ramos, Eury Perez and Dan Haren were the second, third and fourth batters in a row to strike out against Kershaw, who got the Nats' catcher and pitcher looking around a swinging K by the rookie outfielder in an 11-pitch second that had him at 40 pitches overall after two.
Haren retired Andre Ethier on a grounder to second for the first out of the Dodgers' half of the inning and the fourth-straight batter set down to start the game in Los Angeles. A.J. Ellis K'd chasing a 2-2 cutter down low for the fifth out in-a-row and Haren's first strikeout, but Skip Schumaker's line drive to left fell in for the Dodgers' first hit, and Nick Punto followed with a one-hop grounder to right to put two on with two out for Dee Gordon. The Dodgers' shortstop popped to right to end the second, however, and the 21-pitch inning had Haren at 34 overall after two.
Danny Espinosa and Steve Lombardozzi were strikeout victims no.6 and 7 overall and the fifth and sixth consecutive batters struck out by Kershaw in 2.2 IP, but Ryan Zimmerman broke that streak up and improved to 2 for 2 tonight and 6 for 11 in his career vs Kershaw when he singled to left with two down. First base ump Alfonso Marquez called a balk on Kershaw which moved Zimmerman up, but Ian Desmond popped out to right to end the top of the third. The 18-pitch inning had Kershaw after 58 total after three.
Dan Haren hit Kershaw on the foot to put the pitcher on at the start of the bottom of the third. One out later, Matt Kemp lined a 1-1 splitter to left for a single and a splitter in the dirt to Adrian Gonzalez got away from Wilson Ramos, wild pitch, and moved both runners into scoring position. Gonzalez K'd chasing a 3-2 fastball upstairs for out no.2, but Andre Ethier sent a sharp single back up the middle with two down to drive in two runs and make it 2-0 LA. 1 for 2 tonight for Ethier, 21 for 49 career vs Haren. A 23-pitch inning has Haren at 57 pitches after three.
Adam LaRoche and Tyler Moore hit back-to-back flies to center in the fourth and Wilson Ramos K'd to end a 1-2-3 inning with Kershaw's eighth K. The 10-pitch frame had the Dodgers' lefty at 68 total. A 12-pitch, 1-2-3 fourth inning by Haren had the Nats' right-hander at 69 pitches on the night.
After Eury Perez grounded out, Dan Haren struck out, chasing a slow 0-2 curve for Kershaw's ninth K. An 0-2 curve to Danny Espinosa made it 10 Ks and 76 pitches overall after an eight-pitch inning by the Dodgers' left-hander. Haren needed nine pitches to retire the side in order in LA's fifth, leaving him at 78 overall, down 2-0 in Dodger Stadium.
Ryan Zimmerman was 3 for 3 tonight and 7 for 12 vs Kershaw in their respective careers after a one-out single in the sixth. An Ian Desmond groundout and Adam LaRoche K ended the Nationals' half of the inning, however, with the Dodgers up 2-0 and Kershaw up to 11 Ks. After a 1-2-3 bottom of the sixth, Haren had retired 10 Dodgers in a row going back to Andre Ethier's two-out single in the 3rd. The 15-pitch inning had Haren at 93 total.
Eury Perez battled for Kershaw for 11 pitches in his two out at bat in the seventh, but his soft liner to short ended a 15-pitch inning by the Dodgers' lefty that had him at 102 overall after 7.0 IP. A 1-2-3 seventh by Haren ended with 13-straight Dodgers retired, but the right-hander and the Nats were still down 2-0.
Haren's Line: 7.0 IP, 4 H, 2 R, 2 ER, 0 BB, 4 Ks, 101 P, 71 S, 6/8 GO/FO.
Denard Span hit for Haren in the top of the eighth, popping up to short to start the frame. Danny Espinosa avoided the golden sombrero with a groundout, but a line drive out to Matt Kemp in center ended an 11-pitch, 1-2-3 eighth by Kershaw with the pitcher at 114 pitches overall. Ryan Mattheus retired the Dodgers in order in the bottom of the eighth, and Kershaw picked took the towel of his arm and headed back to the mound.
Ryan Zimmermann was 3 for 4 and 7 for 13 career vs Kershaw when he flew out to deep right field for the first out of the ninth. Ian Desmond flew to left for out no.2. Adam LaRoche worked the count full, taking Kershaw 129th pitch for ball three and fouling of no.130 and 131 before lining to center on pitch no. 132 for a two-out single that ended Kershaw's night. Kenley Jansen took over against Tyler Moore. The Nats' slugger K'd swinging to end it and earn the W for Kershaw.
Kershaw's Line: 8.2 IP, 5 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 1 BB, 11 Ks, 132 P, 96 S, 5/3 GO/FO.
Dodgers win, 2-0 final.
Nationals now 21-18