More drama for the Los Angeles Dodgers-San Diego Padres series, this time with Clayton Kershaw and Mookie Betts

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Friday’s game lasted five hours, spanned 12 innings and included 17 pitchers.
Saturday’s game came down to one centimeter.

It was about the distance between the grass of Petco Park field and the baseball sticking out of Mookie Betts’ glove, barely secure enough to place another exclamation mark on an exhilarating game between the Los Angeles Dodgers. and the San Diego Padres.

It was the bottom of the ninth, there were two strikeouts, the Dodgers led by two, the Padres had two runners in goal position, and both teams had gone through another April game with the bitter intensity of October. . Betts, the playground for injured Cody Bellinger, broke to his left, sprinted seven steps and set off for Tommy Pham’s downline practice. If he falls, the game is at least tied. Give Pham speed, maybe the Padres win on a home run inside the park.

Betts secured it on the heel of their glove, turning into a game with a 10% capture probability in the Dodgers 2-0 win. He straightened up on both knees, patted his chest three times and roared at a crowd that had mostly gone silent. Moments later, in an on-field interview with the Dodgers broadcast affiliate, Betts said he “was sort of passed out.”

It was that kind of series.

“It’s different,” said Padres starter Yu Darvish, who only allowed one end through seven dominant innings, through his interpreter. “I saw him yesterday too. “

Friday’s madness spilled over into Saturday’s classic pitcher’s duel between Darvish and Clayton Kershaw, which produced just one run in the first eight innings – on a basics-laden march by Kershaw, everything the world – and ended in a brilliant defense, the antithesis of the neglect of 24 hours earlier.

The Dodgers have won eight in a row, continue to lead the majors in winning percentage, and have won just 13 of their first 15 games for the second time in the past 100 years.

They’ve risen to match the intensity of a team Padres so visibly keen to knock them off their perch atop the National League West, but they didn’t necessarily force it. They rested their players in bad shape, refrained from overusing their relievers and spoke about this series with the blandness one would expect from early-season baseball, even if the games were nothing. felt such.

“It’s April,” said Dodgers third baseman Justin Turner. “The thing about this club and our team over the past two years is that we talk a lot about playing one game at a time and worrying about today and doing whatever we can to win a game. match today, regardless of what happened yesterday. I think a lot of teams are talking about it, but this team is one of the best groups I know to perform this and not let the moment get too big. “

Kershaw played regularly with Darvish over the last three months of the 2017 season, but he had never faced him – you know, as a hitter – until Saturday. He was put out on four throws in his first appearance at home plate, and then got a 2-2 tally on his second. It was the fifth inning, the bases were loaded with two strikeouts, Darvish had three hitters struck out of a perfect developing game – and so began one of the biggest streaks of Kershaw’s offensive career, a collection of four. throws that embodied intensity, unpredictability. and the pure chance of this emerging rivalry.

Slide on the plate, tilted foul.

Cutter very low and far away, incorrectly oriented.

Cutter up and away, mistaken for a bullet.

Cutter slightly distant, mistaken for a bullet.

Kershaw worked a walk – on a perfectly placed cutter that only followed the very edges of the strike zone – to get a run, only the second time in a 14-year major league career. Until Turner unleashed a solo homerun in the top of the ninth, it was the only round of the game. In the end, that was also the difference.

“I’m just trying to be boring, really,” Kershaw said of his approach. “I wasn’t going to get a bad idea, he’s got something too good. It’s just trying to be a nuisance as best I can. “

The previous half-round, Kershaw was shouting at Jurickson Profar – “He’s a bull – swing!” He barked – for swinging so late that he grabbed his bat on Austin Barnes’ glove and got the first base on receiver interference. Kershaw later complained that Profar swung “straight down and back”, adding that it was “not a big league swing”.

Two innings later, Trent Grisham found himself at second base but didn’t accurately read the defense behind him and broke late on Manny Machado’s sharp pitch through the infield, advancing only 90 feet. Next batter Wil Myers hit a 106 mph grounder that hit the mound and landed in Chris Taylor’s glove for a late inning double play.

Kershaw, who contributed six scoreless frames and didn’t allow a run in 18 straight innings, couldn’t help but smile as he returned to the dugout.

Myers looked stunned.

It wouldn’t be the last time.

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