Who expected Domingo German versus Clayton Kershaw to turn into an ace-off? It did, however, and the Yankees got the better end of the deal. They walked away with a 5-1 win and took the series from Los Angeles two games to one.
With Kershaw on the mound, one would expect runs to come at a premium. Instead, DJ LeMahieu greeted the left-hander with a home run on the third pitch of the game. Kershaw hung a curveball that LeMahieu planted into the left-field seats. That was his 22nd homer of the season, and it gave the Yankees a quick 1-0 lead.
Aaron Judge followed, and he sent a well-struck a ball to center field, but Chris Taylor reeled it in. Kershaw then hit Didi Gregorius on the shoulder, and the shortstop took a moment to regain his composure with Aaron Boone and Steve Donohue. He would eventually leave the game after the second inning. A Gleyber Torres strikeout and a fly ball from Gary Sanchez, however, prevented the runner from scoring.
The Dodgers evened the score in the bottom half—more on that later—but the Yankees weren’t done with Kershaw. Judge stepped to the plate in the third inning and crushed his third home run of the series. He sent another Kershaw curveball into the seats to retake the lead, 2-1. After a prolonged slump, it’s fun to see Judge reclaiming his title as baseball’s destroyer of worlds.
The barrage of home runs against Kershaw continued in the sixth inning, with Mike Ford joining the party. He entered the game in the third inning in place of Gregorius. The 27-year-old went yard to right field, extending the Yankees’ lead to 3-1. I can’t say that I ever expected to write about Ford homering off Kershaw, let alone while playing for the first-place Yankees. Here we are though!
All told, the Yankees scored three times off Kershaw. All came via the long ball. The left-hander struck out 12, however, and at times looked unhittable. I guess that goes to show that come the postseason, the best way to get to good pitching is through the home-run ball.
After driving Kershaw from the game, the Bombers faced Pedro Baez. Tyler Wade came to the plate and the home-plate umpire made him switch bats. His silver Players’ Weekend bat apparently didn’t comply with the standards. But hey, let the kids play, right? While Wade lined out to right, LeMahieu and Ford combined to plate an insurance run.
Adam Kolarek came on to pitch the ninth, and the Bombers continued to add on. Brett Gardner singled to get things started, and he advanced to third on an errant pickoff attempt. Gio Urshela then tapped an RBI single to make it 5-1. That’s all the runs the Yankees would need, as the team received superb pitching.
German’s strong start, however, almost went off the rails on the first pitch. He left a fastball up and right over the plate to Joc Pederson, who turned on the pitch and crushed it. The first-pitch homer sailed into the right-field seats and evened the score at 1-1.
Max Muncy then doubled, which brought the dangerous Justin Turner to the plate. He popped up in front of Gary Sanchez, and no one came to help out the catcher. The ball dropped in fair territory, but the home-plate umpire called Turner out on interference. He made contact with Sanchez coming out of the box, and that ruled him out.
This break helped German escape the inning, but the credit there truly belongs to Corey Seager. The shortstop looked baffled by German’s offerings. He whiffed on three consecutive offspeed pitches, including a breaking ball buried down and in. That sort of at-bat made German appear overwhelming,
German ran into trouble a few more times—most notably in the third inning when he had two on with one out—but he never yielded. The right-hander tossed six full innings, holding the Dodgers to just the one run. He struck out five and walked two. This was a gusty outing from German. He could have let things unravel in the first inning, but he kept attacking and held the Dodgers in check.
After German, the bullpen made quick work of Los Angeles’ lineup. Adam Ottavino, Tommy Kahnle, Zack Britton, and Aroldis Chapman combined for three scoreless innings. The Yankees closed the door on the Dodgers in what was hopefully an October preview.
The Yankees will now head to Seattle for a three-game series to finish out the West Coast trip. J.A. Happ is expected to pitch, but nothing’s official there yet.