D-backs don’t solve Kershaw, Dodgers clinch NL West title at Chase Field
PHOENIX — Clayton Kershaw out-dueled Merrill Kelly, leading the Los Angeles Dodgers to a 4-0 win against the Arizona Diamondbacks and another National League West title Tuesday at Chase Field.
The Dodgers have won the division nine times in the past 10 years, and several D-backs (66-75) players and coaches watched from the dugout as their foes put on “The West is Ours” shirts and celebrated.
Manager Torey Lovullo was among the spectators, listening to the cheers from the mass of Dodgers fans applauding on the first-base side.
“It’s something that we see, we want to do that, we want to do that on our field,” Lovullo said postgame. “I want everyone to remember that. It’s going to be our turn, but we have a lot of work to do.”
The Dodgers (98-43) sprinted away from the rest of the division this year, clinching the title with 21 games remaining.
Lovullo said he’s optimistic about Arizona’s future, but he acknowledged there’s a long way to go before reaching the level the Dodgers have attained.
“I got a picture in my mind of what it looks like, and I’m hoping everybody else does, too,” Lovullo said. “We’ve got to climb to get there.”
The D-backs had no answers for Kershaw in the three-time Cy Young winner’s first matchup against Arizona this season.
Kershaw surrendered two singles in seven shutout frames without a runner reaching scoring position. He struck out five hitters, including Christian Walker — who entered the game with a career .318 average against Kershaw — twice.
Geraldo Perdomo had the first D-backs hit with one out in the third and they didn’t get another until Emmanuel Rivera smoked a single in the seventh.
Kershaw got some help from a stout defensive showing, as shortstop Trea Turner and right fielder Mookie Betts took hits away from Rivera and Jake McCarthy, respectively.
Sometimes Mookie even amazes himself. 😱
(MLB x @TMobile) pic.twitter.com/QESudd7N2Y
— MLB (@MLB) September 14, 2022
Kelly, on the other hand, had to grind early, as he fell behind 11 of the first 16 batters he faced.
“Got myself in a lot of bad counts, a lot of bad situations and against teams like that, it’s probably not going to go your way if you’re doing that,” Kelly said.
The Dodgers got on the board after left fielder Joey Gallo shot a changeup 438 feet to center field for a two-run home run in the second.
Kelly dug into a two-on, two-out hole with All-Star Trea Turner up, but the righty picked up a critical strikeout using a changeup that dropped below the zone.
Kelly fell behind Freddie Freeman to lead off the third, and Freeman turned on a sinker and hit it over the pool in right field.
Freddie and the @Dodgers want to wrap up the NL West tonight. pic.twitter.com/IGCqPZwRgL
— MLB (@MLB) September 14, 2022
The NL’s July Pitcher of the Month threw 71 pitches through three innings and had four walks, but he limited the damage from there.
Kelly settled in over the next couple of innings and got through the fifth with the score still a manageable 3-0.
“From where he was in the second and third inning to get through five was solid,” Lovullo said. “Gives us a chance to stay in the game and manipulate the bullpen, keep some guys fresh for tomorrow.”
The D-backs offense made its most noise in the eighth inning with two on and nobody out. Perdomo, though, missed a critical bunt and struck out, and catcher Carson Kelly followed with a crushing double play.
“We gotta fight on days like this,” Lovullo said. “I felt like we had some opportunities, we just put the ball on the ground, a couple of big double plays took us out of some potential run-scoring opportunities.”
Dodgers closer Craig Kimbrel entered in the ninth and got the job done with a 1-2-3 frame.
The D-backs will turn to Zach Davies Wednesday night as they look to avoid a sweep. Dustin May will start for the Dodgers.
First pitch is at 6:40 p.m. on 98.7 FM Arizona’s Sports Station.