Clayton Kershaw #22 of the Los Angeles Dodgers reacts to the homerun of Chris Denorfia #13 of the San Diego Padres which came off the first pitch of the game during the first inning at Dodger Stadium in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)
Heading into their game against the Giants Sunday night, the Los Angeles Dodgers were 4½ games behind the Giants in the National League West, but just one game behind the Cardinals for the league's second Wild Card playoff spot.
Which is to say, at this point every single game seems critical. So it does seem important that Clayton Kershaw was scratched from his scheduled Sunday start, with a hip injury. The good news is that Kershaw's injury is considered non-serious, and he's reportedly expected to start against the Diamondbacks Tuesday night, when the clubs open a three-game series in Phoenix.
In Kershaw's absence, Joe Blanton was tabbed to start against the Giants. Blanton has struggled since joining the Dodgers in a trade with the Phillies, going just 1-3 with a 6.17 ERA in six starts. Blanton did post Quality Starts in each of his last two outings, at Colorado and at home against the Padres. Sunday night's start, though, qualifies as his biggest since the 2010 National League Championship Series.