At the very least, it's pretty easy to predict what Clayton Kershaw was going to do to this Yankees offense. Kershaw has been a Cy Young candidate for multiple years, won the award in 2011, and is on the verge of becoming the highest paid pitcher in baseball history. The man can pitch, and he also got the fortune of facing the 2013 Yankees offense.
The result? Eight shutout innings. Kershaw was as good as advertised for the Dodgers tonight, allowing only three hits in his first seven innings. The Yankees threatened in the second, as singles by Vernon Wells and Brent Lillibridge put runners on the corners with one out, but Kershaw got Jayson Nix to pop one up and Chris Stewart to ground out to end the threat.
That was about as much as the Yankees could get going against Kershaw. They threatened again in the eighth with two outs, as a single by Chris Stewart and a pinch hit single by Melky Mesa gave them an opportunity to score, but Brett Gardner fouled out to left to end the inning.
Fortunately for the Yankees, Hiroki Kuroda was on the mound, and he was every bit as masterful as Kershaw tonight. HIROK allowed only two hits through the first six and he matched Kershaw pitch for pitch and inning for inning tonight. After showing absolutely no signs of trouble through the first six, Kuroda ran into a bit of trouble in the seventh. Adrian Gonzalez singled to right to lead off the inning but was thrown out by about 15 feet at second base by Vernon Wells for the first out. After a strikeout of Hanley Ramirez, back to back singles for Andre Eithier and A.J. Ellis gave the Dodgers their best opportunity to score off of Kuroda. Kuroda, however, struck out Skip Schumaker to end the inning.
Melky Mesa's pinch hit appearance in the top of the eighth signaled the end of the night for Hiroki Kuroda (yay NL Baseball!). His final line: Seven innings, five hits, no runs, one walk, eight strikeouts. This was his eighth scoreless pitching performance of the season. See you in 2014, HIROK (I hope).
Boone Logan relieved Kuroda in the bottom of the eighth, and this is where the Binder began to successfully take over the game (!!!). Juan Uribe led off the inning with a single to left (PASTA diving Jeter, to be precise). This prompted Don Mattingly to send Clayton Kershaw back out to bunt Uribe over to second, which he successfully did. Carl Crawford flew out to Soriano in left, and then Birardi walked Yasiel Puig intentionally to set up the lefty-lefty matchup between Boone Logan and Adrian Gonzalez. It should be noted that lefties have actually had more success against Logan this season than righties have. But none of it turned out to matter, as Logan got Gonzalez to fly out to Gardner to end the inning.
For reasons best known to himself, Mattingly decided to take Clayton Kershaw out of the game despite letting him hit in the previous inning. Kershaw was replaced by Ronald Belisario. Another change for the Dodgers: Skip Schumaker moved to left field and Mark Ellis entered the game for defensive purposes. Remember that later.
Derek Jeter walked to lead off the ninth and was replaced by Eduardo Nunez on the bases. Robinson Cano grounded into a force, and then Alfonso Soriano grounded out softly to third which allowed Cano to move to second. This is where Girardi went into managing mode, and it seemed like every move he made worked out tonight. Ichiro Suzuki pinch hit for Vernon Wells with Cano on second and two outs, and was intentionally walked. Lyle Overbay was then called upon to pinch hit for Brent Lillibridge, and Mattingly countered with the lefty Paco Rodriguez.
Following two ugly check swings and a... questionable call on a check swing by the third base umpire, Lyle Overbay delivered a two out RBI single to finally get the Yankees a run. The next batter, Jayson Nix, then popped one up to second where the ball was dropped by Mark Ellis (Luis Castillo would be proud) allowing two more runs to score. Mattingly then brought in his third pitcher of the inning in Brandon League, who got Stewart to ground out to end the inning. I have no idea why Kershaw didn't pitch the ninth at only 94 pitches, but I'm sure glad he didn't.
Mariano Rivera closed the game in typical Mariano Rivera fashion: A 1-2-3 inning on 12 pitches. Yankees win 3-0.
- CC Sabathia finished the game in the on deck circle, as he was going to pinch hit for Boone Logan. I am thoroughly disappointed that he didn't get to hit, as Stewart grounded out to end the ninth.
- Speaking of Stewart, he's 4 for his last 41... ouch.
- Both the Orioles and Tampa Bay lost their respective games today, so the Yankees managed to gain a game on both. They are exactly three games back of the final wild card spot as of tonight.