Starling Marte was the only Pirates player to get a hit Saturday night. (Photo credit: David Hague)
Carved. Sliced. Diced. Slashed. Controlled. Mastered. Dominated. Dismantled.
You can use any verb you would like to describe what Dodgers starter Clayton Kershaw did to the Pirates in a 1-0 L.A. victory Saturday night. But one works best.
He Kershawed them.
The back-to-back National League ERA champion fired jittery fastballs and dive-bombing sliders past hitters for 17 swings-and-misses on his way to nine strikeouts and just one walk. Over Kershaw’s seven masterful innings for a second-straight win, Starling Marte was the only Pirates hitter that did not get chiseled down into a sculpture of Kershaw’s greatness. Marte recorded two singles to become the first Pittsburgh player to record a multi-hit game this season.
Pirates’ starter A.J. Burnett was impressive, but fell to 0-2 for the sin of not being the same search-and-destroy level of the former Cy Young Award winner. Burnett matched Kershaw with nine strikeouts, but long at-bats, four hits and four walks led to his removal in the sixth inning.
The only mark on Burnett’s performance came in the 3rd inning. Carl Crawford hit a two-out single that one-hopped Clint Barmes. He swiped second base for his second steal of the night, then was driven in by Mark Ellis punching a seeing-eye single between the dives of Barmes and Pedro Alvarez.
The Dodgers almost added another run when they loaded the bases in the 6th. Adrian Gonzalez singled to left, and Burnett walked Andre Ethier as his last batter. Reliever Jared Hughes then gave up a single to A.J. Ellis, but it was hit hard enough at Marte to keep Gonzalez at third. Hughes got the next two hitters to pop out to Barmes and ground out to Alvarez to hold the Dodgers to a one-run lead. L.A. ended up with eight hits on the evening.
On the other side, the Pirates heard a lot of Beethoven’s Symphony No. 5 at Dodger Stadium, the unmistakable “DUN DUN DUN DUUUUUN” accompanying the season-high 11 strikeouts of Pittsburgh hitters as the team dropped to a 1-4 record on the season. Alvarez heard it three times, Barmes and Jose Tabata twice. And they were in no position to be in scoring position. Marte started the game with a single and was bunted to second. After that, no Pirates baserunner got past first base.
Kershaw’s steady outing was closed out by Paco Rodriguez, Kenley Jansen and Brandon League pitching two scoreless innings, with only Neil Walker reaching base on a walk. In two nights at Dodger Stadium, the Bucs are still without a run and have only gotten one baserunner into scoring position.
Make that a mere six runs for the Pirates in five games, against pitchers good (Jeff Samardzija, Zack Greinke) to average (Travis Wood) to Kershawian.