Pitching ace Clayton Kershaw went 7 innings and gave up 1 run while Yusmeiro Petit went 6 innings and gave up 3 runs in this game that was billed as the match-up of the season originally scheduled with Kershaw and Stephen Strasburg who was scratched shortly before 1st pitch.
This game never felt close for the first 6 innings as Kershaw loves working with a lead, even if it is just 1 run and Kershaw had a 3 run lead, but Kershaw got in trouble in the 7th inning and the Nationals could only score 1 run.
The Nationals did battle against the best pitcher in the universe which is all you can ask for. Michael Taylor extended his ‘starter’ hitting streak to 18 straight games. In fact all Nationals starters including Petit had hits in this game except for Ryan Zimmerman and Danny Espinosa. In fact, it was actually Yusmeiro Petit who broke up the no-hitter of Kershaw in the 3rd inning. Most would agree that Kershaw did not look his sharpest as he had several 3 ball counts including a 3-0 count where Wilson Ramos was in swing-mode and singled off of him. In typical Kershaw style, he bent but did not break. He issued no walks, 6 hits, and only the 1 earned run while pitching out of trouble.
As for Strasburg’s health, he said he felt a pinch in his upper back while lifting weights on Saturday in San Diego. Strasburg was receiving treatment and taking medications, and it did not feel 100% near game time when Strasburg decided it was best to not repeat the mistakes of last year and pitch when not near 100% healthy. “When the meds didn’t really seem to help much … I was like, it’s just not worth the risk,” Strasburg said. “[Petit] did a great job out there. I was trying to make the right decision — didn’t want to go out there and go a couple innings and feel like I couldn’t go any longer and have him come out of the bullpen. So at least we were able to make a decision before the start of the game so he could get ready properly.”
While fans were looking forward to the Kershaw/Strasburg match-up which never happened in what Heidi Watney of MLB Network called it a, “marquee match-up befitting Hollywood” and statistically this was the earliest time in an MLB season that two 10 win pitchers with 1 loss or less were scheduled to face each other in over a century. Maybe it was not the greatest match-up in a century, but hype is hype for ratings. Bryce Harper‘s reaction to the Kershaw/Strasburg match-up not happening summed it up, “Sucks for ESPN.” Yes, ESPN made this game their Monday night national game.
Vin Scully, who was sick, called the game last night, and is in his last season of being the voice of the Dodgers and really the voice of Major League Baseball with his dulcet tones and respectful language that take you back to the game as it was in the 1950’s when Scully began calling Brooklyn Dodger games.
Scully’s start as a professional radio personality began in Washington D.C. for WTOP, and yes, he got to give some Washington Senator scores and talk about that team that only won 50 games and lost 104 back in 1949. Vin first appeared on the radio at WTOP in May of 1949, a month before he finished at Fordham University in New York. WTOP was the only potential employer who responded to over 150 letters that Scully sent out. “I was shocked because it was actually the one station I was not going to send a letter to. I said, ‘WTOP, no, that’s 50,000 watts,’” Scully recalled back to 1949. “It’ll only cost you another 3-cent stamp,” the lady typing his cover letters for employment told him. Listen here about the WTOP experience.
Scully’s other big break was broadcasting a University of Maryland football game that put him on the map, and led him to the permanent job with the Dodgers. In 1950, Scully got the job doing the Brooklyn Dodger’s games with Red Barber, and Scully has never looked back. He is in his 67th and final season, and has logged over 10,000 games including spring training games. Think about it, over 10,000 games, and he was personally excited about the scheduled starters for last night’s game to see a baseball rarity that did not happen.
Last night, Scully could have called in sick as he had a sore throat, but he wanted to call the Kershaw/Strasburg match-up. Scully was polite, but clearly disappointed when he learned Strasburg was scratched from the start. He did not pull a Rob Dibble, and tell Strasburg to suck it up. Scully turns 89 later this year and is a gentleman and a gem.
“I really knew I had a sore throat,” said Vin Scully. “But I wanted to see Strasburg and Kershaw ‘soooo badly’ that I decide I’m going to go and somehow I will cloak my way through the game, and I don’t know maybe all of a sudden I thought I would feel 100 percent.”
To look back, it was on Saturday that Vin Scully was already getting excited about the Steven Spielberg, uh, Strasburg and Kershaw meeting on the mound.
“The Dodgers with four more games [on this homestand], tomorrow afternoon and then three night games with the Washington Nationals,” Scully said Saturday. “And all you have to do is look at Monday, that’s Clayton Kershaw and Steven Spielberg.”
It is almost cute now when Vin Scully fumbles a name, but more amazing was how Scully was able to cloak his way through the game, and most were none the wiser that he had a sore throat. A man of almost 89 years, and he was there for the love of the game.
Nationals’ manager Dusty Baker luckily had Yusmeiro Petit available to replace Strasburg for what is hoped to be just a ‘spot’ start, and pitching coach Mike Maddux thought Petit could go 80 pitches. Petit actually pitched 94 pitches in the game which was almost 20% more than the plan. Petit delivered the definition of a quality start which is giving up no more than 3 earned runs in a game while pitching at least 6 innings. Petit spared the bullpen, and arguably threw a better game than yesterday’s Nats starter Gio Gonzalez.
“We were eager to see it, also,” Dusty Baker said of a Kershaw/Strasburg match-up. “But we couldn’t risk losing this guy for a period of time, just because we were all eager to see it. We’ve got to do what’s best for the ball club and best for the team…We are hopeful [Strasburg] makes his next start.”
Tomorrow is a new day.