The story of this game is Clayton Kershaw’s return to the Dodgers and everything went as planned as he pitch seven innings allowing no runs and striking out nine Nationals. It was an impressive start, but impressive starts are common place for a pitcher as good as Kershaw. What was impressive is that Nationals spot starter Blake Treinen held the game scoreless and tied through five innings. Matt Williams then decided to push the spot starter in his major league debut as a starting pitcher into the sixth.
Clayton Kershaw reached on an error when Blake Treinen couldn’t pick up his dribbler. Dee Gordon hit a ball right to Adam LaRoche and LaRoche was caught thinking about a throw to second before he could secure the ball and Gordon ended up on first base. An second infield hit and a solid single by Hanley Ramirez would give the Dodgers the lead they wouldn’t relinquish as Kershaw kept the stranglehold on the Nats hitters and the Dodgers offense came to life against the Nats bullpen.
Craig Stammen and Ross Detwiler who have been seldom seen as of recent games both entered the game and allowed more runs to score. Detwiler doing the real damage giving up a lead-off home run to Hanley Ramirez in the top of the eight then walking Kemp on four pitches ahead of an infield single by Andre Ethier and then after outs by Juan Uribe and Scott Van Slyke, Drew Butera knocked in Kemp and Ethier with a three run home run that put the game out of reach.
The Nationals would mount a mini rally in the bottom of the eighth sending nine batters to the plate and scoring three runs, but it was too little too late and the Dodgers bullpen held on to give Clayton Kershaw a victory in his return to the mound.
With the Nationals loss and a Braves win over St. Louis the Nationals are back in second place with the Braves reclaiming first. All the Nationals can do is put this one behind them and hope that their Ace, Stephen Strasburg, can come out and out duel the resurgent Dan Haren who is off to a much better start with the Dodgers than he had last season with the Nationals.
The frustration of the Nationals play comes from the fact that they’ve outscored opponents by an average margin of 3.9 in victories and been outscored by an average of 3.7 in loses. A difference of five runs is considered a blowout so the Nats winning or losing by an average margin of right around four runs is on the edge of a blowout and makes them look like a great team when they win and a terrible team win they lose.
A loss to Kershaw with a spot starter pitching is expected, but it is the manner in which they lost that causes frustration. Treinen kept the Nationals in it until the sixth inning and the formula to winning was always to hold it close and get to the bullpen and that didn’t happen as the Dodgers jumped to an 8-0 lead before the Nationals even got a shot at their bullpen.
It is a tough and frustrating loss, but that has been Nationals baseball in 2014. The wins are very good and the loses very bad, and all they can do is keep on playing.