I wish I could find an electronic version of the print copy of yesterday's LATimes cover. As I ran out the door yesterday morning, there was a great front-page (A1!) picture of Clayton Kershaw beaming in the dugout among his fellow Dodger teammates, who stood in awe as he was en route to winning his 20th game of the year.
That's the Kershaw I have loved seeing this season. And it is indeed worthy of front-page news.
I didn't get a chance to see Kershaw's 20th win, over the Giants Tuesday night, live (either in person or on television); I was stuck in my car, listening to Charley Steiner call the radio play-by-play. And it got dicey there in the eighth inning, when a one-out HR made the score 2-1 LA, and Kershaw lost both Pat Burrell and Andres Torres to consecutive walks.
Mattingly came out to get Kershaw, who was at 115 pitches and must have been gassed. Kenley Jansen came in to relieve Kershaw. And the tension was palpable.
All I could think about was how Jansen had to save this win for the Minotaur. It was like the whole season hinged upon retaining this victory not only for the team, but getting out of the inning to retain the victory for our starter. As I suffered through that brain-numbing Arco gas commercial (the poorly-narrated one describing the "computerized" tool to find cheap quality gas station locations, in which the tool doesn't even exert the effort to modulate to sound like a computerized voice), I worried.
And Jansen struck out Pablo Sandwich on three pitchers. Steiner sounded like he jumped up in his seat. "Power against power!", said Steiner, describing what had to be mighty flailing swings by the rotund Sandoval against Jansen's 93- and 94-mph pitches.
And then Jansen, with two out, took trade deadline maneuver Carlos Beltran to an 0-2 count, then a 1-2 count. And then blew a 94-mph cutter right by Beltran, in which Beltran--in a style that mimicked his fateful lack of swing to end the 2006 NLCS against the Cardinals, in which Beltran was called out on an Adam Wainwright strikeout, looking, in the bottom of the ninth, with the bases loaded and down by two runs, to end Game 7.
On Tuesday night in Los Angeles, Beltran left his bat on his shoulder, once again, and was called out to end the last real threat the Giants would muster (Aubrey Huff GIDPd with a man on, but not in scoring position, to end the game). You can watch Beltran getting fooled by Jansen here. The highlight immediately cuts to Kershaw's beaming smile in the Dodgers' dugout. He was on his way to a win, and the Dodgers were on their way to a hope-crushing victory against the arch-rival Giants.
I have no doubt that Beltran is the five-tool, impact player everyone says he is. He didn't help the Giants get over the hump in 2011, however. And he certainly helped get Clayton Kershaw to sparkle on the cover of my September 21, 2011 LA Times.