With the first game of the National League Division Series behind them, questions lingered about the Los Angeles Dodgers, but they wouldn’t be about Clayton Kershaw as much as the lack of output from his teammates.
The Dodgers came within one inning of being shutout. If Howie Kendrick hadn’t hit that double in the eighth and the Adrian Gonzalez followed with a single to bring him home, it would have looked a lot worse for the Dodgers. Kershaw didn’t pitch badly, he just needed some run support, especially with Jacob deGrom pitching for the Mets.
The Dodgers bats had chances in those first three innings to unload on the young pitcher, but only Justin Turner and Corey Seager were consistently able to to get hits.
Saturday’s match up on the mound featured Noah Syndergaard for the Mets and Zack Greinke for the Dodgers. Syndergaard has an ERA of 3.24 and a record of 9-7, but his WHIP, which is walks and hits per inning, is just 1.05. Zack Greinke, arguably the best pitcher in baseball this season, has an ERA of 1.66 and a WHIP of .66.
But no matter how good Zack Greinke pitched, the Dodger bats needed to produce some runs if they expected to win Game Two of this series.
The game started out good for the Mets. Greinke gave up two early solo homeruns in the second inning, first to Yoenis Cespedes and then to Michael Conforto, causing the Dodgers fans in Chavez Ravine to moan and the few Mets fans to go wild.
But then the Dodgers ace settled down and kept the Mets from scoring again until he was relieved by Chris Hatcher to begin the eighth inning.
It was the Dodgers bats, led by Justin Turner, that got the Dodgers crowd back on its feet. He got on in the fourth inning with a double and Andre Ethier followed with another double, scoring Turner.
But it was in the seventh when the Dodgers exploded for 4 more runs as Howie Kendrick, Adrian Gonzalez and Justin Turner each batted in runs, Gonzalez with two.
The key play in that inning though was the hard slide into second base by Chase Utley to break up the double play. In the process he took out Mets shortstop Rubén Tejada, who had to leave the game.
Utley was called out, but Dodgers manager Don Mattingly challenged that, claiming Tejada hadn’t touched the base. The call was reversed, putting Utley back on second base. That sparked the four runs in the inning.
We later learned Tejada had a broken right fibula as a result of the play.
The Mets went through several pitchers after starter Noah Syndergaard left, who pitched seven and a third innings. Kenley Jansen, the Dodgers closer, took the mound for the last out of the eighth inning and then the ninth to finish the game.
In my video report you’ll hear from Chase Utley about the play, as well as Howie Kendrick and Kike Hernandez, who also got the first steal of his major league career in that seventh inning. After the game he told us first base coach Davey Lopes was telling him he had to go, but Hernandez, who was on first, felt he’s too slow to steal bases. But he said Syndergaard’s pitch was slow to the plate and catcher Travis d’Arnaud’s throw to second was late.
Game three will be at Citi Field in New York on Monday, with Brett Anderson starting for the Dodgers and Matt Harvey starts for the Mets.
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Update: On Sunday Major League Baseball issued a statement saying Utley has been suspended from games three and four of the series. According to the release, they claim Utley violated Rule 5.09(a)(13),part of which forbids, “… deliberate, unwarranted, unsportsmanlike action by the runner in leaving the baseline for the obvious purpose of crashing the pivot man on a double play, rather than reach the base.”
Joe Torre, the Executive Vice President for Baseball Operations for MLB, explained the decision, which was released in a video.
Utley’s agent, Joel Wolfe, issued a statement calling the decision “outrageous” and said he and Utley plan to appeal. As far as Wolfe, Utley, manager Don Mattingly and the rest of the Dodgers organization is concerned, it was a clean slide with a tragic end for the Mets shortstop.
In the video below you can clearly see Utley was distraught over the injury to Tejada, but even Howie Kendrick admitted, “He probably did slide late …”
With the start of Game Three less than 24 hours away, it will be interesting to see what happens; will the two-game suspension be delayed until it can be reviewed? If Utley does play in Game Three will there be retaliation by the Mets?
There is already some bad blood between Utley and Mets starter Matt Harvey, from earlier this year when Utley was with the Philadelphia Phillies. Harvey hit Utley with a pitch that resulted in warnings being issued to both teams.
In the post-game press conference Mets manager Terry Collins hinted at retaliation, saying, “… players always took care of stuff themselves.” Unfortunately the video from that press conference no longer appears to be available.
Game Three starter Matt Harvey said he would do “what’s right” when it came to sticking up for his teammates.
(L.A. Post-Examiner Staff contributed to this update.)
(Photos by Claudia Gestro)
Claudia is of Peruvian and Italian descent, having been born in a small town, in the North of Peru, South America. She was raised by her grandmother from an early age, living in poverty until Claudia’s mother brought her to America. She landed in Miami, FL and started her new life, playing high school basketball and eventually becoming a United States citizen. Claudia completed her education at Florida International University with a BA in Broadcast Journalism and became a model to supplement her income. Since graduating from FIU Claudia has worked with many of the Spanish Language broadcasting companies, including Telemundo, Univision and most recently Spanish Language channels on SiriusXM satellite radio and PasTV Deportes in Venezuela.She encourages you to follow her on Twitter and Facebook. Her content appears here under a shared content agreement with her Spanish television clients.