LOS ANGELES, CA - Clayton Kershaw of the Los Angeles Dodgers throws a pitch against the San Francisco Giants. (Photo by Stephen Dunn/Getty Images)
Clayton Kershaw and the Giants have a chicken-and-the-egg thing going. Kershaw is making a strong case for the Cy Young this year. The Giants are making a strong case to be one of the league's weakest offenses in years, if not decades. Kershaw has made almost 20 percent of his starts this season against the Giants.
So is Kershaw that good? Are the Giants that bad?
The answer, of course, is yes. It's not a mutually exclusive proposition. Kershaw has been amazing. The Giants have been ... equally amazing, in their own way. And when they get together, there usually aren't any surprises. Entering Tuesday night, Kershaw had thrown 34-2/3 innings against the Giants this year, allowing four earned runs (1.04 ERA). He allowed one earned run against the Giants in 7-2/3 innings on Tuesday. His season ERA against them went up.
The corollary to the Kershaw dominance is that Tim Lincecum has also had a fine season. In another season, in front of another offense, it might have been a Cy Young season. And the Dodgers' offense, while not quite as bad as the Giants', is certainly feckless in its own right. Coming into Tuesday night, Lincecum had thrown 27-1/3 innings against the Dodgers this year, allowing five earned runs (1.65 ERA). He allowed two earned runs against the Dodgers in seven innings on Tuesday. His season ERA against them went up.
After winning 2-1 on Tuesday, Clayton Kershaw's record against the Giants in 2011: 5-0. After losing on Tuesday, Tim Lincecum's record against the Dodgers in 2011: 0-3. Baseball can be a cruel, cruel game, especially if you're a pitcher who isn't getting any run support.
The Dodgers got a two-out RBI single from Juan Rivera in the first inning, and a solo home run from Jerry Sands in the second. That's all Kershaw would need, as he struck out six in his 7-1/3 innings.
The only blemishes for Kershaw were a solo home run in the eighth to Chris Stewart, followed by two walks. Don Mattingly put in Kenley Jansen, and the fire-throwing reliever promptly struck out hot-hitting Pablo Sandoval, then Carlos Beltran with the tying and go-ahead runs on base.
With the win, the Dodgers moved to a game over .500 at 77-76, and the Giants' already slim playoff hopes took a hit. The Braves and Cardinals both won on Tuesday, bumping the Giants to 4-1/2 back in the Wild Card race with eight to play.
Kershaw might have pulled ahead in the Cy Young race with this one, even though his dominance of the Giants is sort of an asterisk. It's not like people think the Harlem Globetrotters are the best basketball team on that planet because they keep beating the Washington Generals.
Despite his 2.59 ERA, Lincecum moves to 12-12, and with another start coming, he could finish under .500 for the season. That's pretty much a one-sentence description of the Giants in 2011, explaining just how they fell out of the playoff race.