The Los Angeles Dodgers snapped their six-game losing streak on Sunday afternoon largely in part to Clayton Kershaw, who threw a complete-game shutout with 14 strikeouts and the RBI single that proved to be the difference in a 1-0 victory.
While Kershaw certainly deserves credit for thoroughly shutting down the San Diego Padres, and helping himself, he was in position to put the Dodgers ahead due to A.J. Ellis’ double off the center field fence. The extra-base hit was Ellis’ third of the season in 45 plate appearances.
Ellis was the Dodgers’ starting catcher from 2012-2014, but has taken a backseat since the team acquired Yasmani Grandal from the Padres after the 2014 season. The new role led to a drop in production at the plate last season as Ellis worked to adjust.
He eventually righted the ship and found his footing as Grandal slumped due to an injured left shoulder. In 14 games this season, Ellis is batting .237/.341/.368 with one home run and eight RBIs.
Kershaw wasn’t surprised by Ellis coming up with a hit, which were hard to come by for the Dodgers throughout their homestand. “He doesn’t struggle for long whenever he does. The thing about A.J. is he hits good pitching,” Kershaw said of his close friend. “He’s consistent every single time.”
Dodgers manager Dave Roberts also praised the veteran catcher, adding that he helped them win Sunday’s game. “I think that A.J. was excited to be in there and stop this streak,” Roberts said.
“It was good to have him behind the plate and blocking balls, but also to give us three good at-bats today. We needed every bit of A.J. Ellis today and he gave it.” Aside from the offensive production Ellis can provide, he’s lauded for his handling of the pitching staff. In addition, Grandal spoke highly last season of Ellis helping the transition to a new club.