Kershaw turns Reds bats into papier mache

UNSOLICITED OBSERVATIONS from The Man Cave while checking on what Jack The Ripper, The Boston Strangler (Albert DeSalvo), Billy The Kid, John Dillinger and Clayton Kershaw have in common.

ANSWER: They are or were all left handed and it is criminal what they did/do to other people.

In Kershaw’s case it is absolutely legal, but it is still cruel and unusual punishment what he does to major league hitters. Those hitters carry lethal weapons to home plate but they drag them to the batter’s box to face Kershaw for no apparent reason.

If you turned off the TV and went to bed after the Los Angeles Dodgers scored a run against the Cincinnati Reds in the sixth inning you were wise. Game over. 1-0. Dodgers win. But if you did you missed the wizardry of Kershaw, the tall left handed Texan with the magical arm.

HE RETIRED THE LAST 17 Reds in order without a whimper of a possible hit. Of the 27 batters he retired, 15 came on ground balls and seven came on strikeouts. The Reds had two hits — none after catcher Tucker Barnhart’s leadoff single to left field in the third inning. And there was only one other runner, a walk to Joey Votto leading off the fourth, only the fifth walk issued by Kershaw this entire season while he has struck out 95.

One might say, “Well, big deal. It came against the Reds, who have lost eight straight, 13 of their last 15, are 15-and-30 for the year and are deeply entrenched in last place in the National League Central.”

Except Kershaw is a big deal. He does it against everybody. He is a three-time Cy Young Award winner and one of the few pitchers to own a Most Valuable Player award (2014). This year he is 7-and-1 with a 1.48 earned run average.

THERE WAS ANOTHER left hander involved in Monday night’s game and he was almost as good as Kershaw. But he lost and is a footnote to this game, except for Reds fan who are looking for any dandelion in the flower garden.

Reds starter Brandon Finnegan, winless since April 16 (1-4, 3.97) was nearly as brilliant as Kershaw, if that’s possible. He pitched the team’s first complete game this season (Kershaw has three complete game shutouts). He gave up only one run and that shouldn’t have scored. He gave up five hits.

But he needed to observe and learn from Kershaw. Don’t walk anybody. Finnegan walked four and one walk turned into the game’s only run.

HE WALKED JUSTIN TURNER on a full count to open the sixth inning. But Turner then should have been out. He wandered too far off first base and catcher Tucker Barnhart had him picked off. But Barnhart’s pickoff throw short-hopped first baseman Joey Votto and skipped into right field. Turner took second. He moved to third on a single by Adrian Gonzalez and scored while Howie Kendrick rolled into a double play.

So Finnegan and the Reds lost, 1-0, even though there were no RBI recorded by either team.

The Reds had some early chances, including Zack Cozart’s first-pitch-of-the-game double to left. He took third on Billy Hamilton’s sacrifice bunt, but remained anchored when Votto lined to shortstop and Brandon Phillips (2 for 25) grounded to third.

BARNHART LED THE third with a single to left, but Finnegan bunted into a force play at second. Cozart and Hamilton both grounded to third.

Kershaw had gone to a three-balls-and-something count on only 29 hitters all year before the game. Joey Votto worked him for three balls three times, but only reached base with a leadoff walk in the fourth (3-and-1 count). Phillips then hit into a double play.

And that was it. Clayton Kershaw, who plays the hitters like Doug Kershaw plays the fiddle (fast and furious), used his three-pitch assortment of fastballs, sliders and 12-to-6 slow curves, to mesmerize the Reds the rest of the way.

It was like watch Michelangelo, Leonardo da Vinci, Helen Keller, Henry Ford, Dr. Albert Schweitzer and Vin Scully work. They all are left handed.

THERE IS A good and enticing reason to stay up late tonight to watch the Reds. Another Reds pitcher makes his major league debut.

When 25-year-old Daniel Wright (and he is right handed) began the season at Class AA Pensacola, he was in the bullpen and made six relief appearances. Then they put him in the rotation for two starts and he was 2-and-0 with a 0.45 earned run average when they moved him to Class AAA Louisville. He made two starts and was 1-0 with a 1.29 ERA. His last start was a complete game victory during which he gave up one unearned run and he was called up, just when it was announced that he was International League Pitcher of the Week.

The Reds drafted him in the 14th round of the 2013 June draft out of Arkansas State and he replaces Tim Adleman, who is on the disabled list with most of the other Reds starting pitchers.

AND THE REDS won’t have to face anybody like Kershaw. Not even close. The Dodgers are in the same dilemma and called up a pitcher from Class AAA for a spot start tonight.

LA manager Dave Roberts had to use 15 pitchers in two games Saturday and Sunday in San Diego — six in an 11-inning loss Saturday and nine in a 17-inning win Sunday. But he had to use Ross Stripling Sunday for three innings and Stripling was originally scheduled to pitch tonight.

So they’ve called up Mike Bolsinger, who is 0-and-1 with a 6.23 ERA in a previous start this year for the Dodgers.





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