Giants Rookie Ty Blach Outduels Clayton Kershaw, Shuts Out Dodgers
Giants Rookie Ty Blach Outduels Clayton Kershaw, Shuts Out Dodgers
Neville E. Guard-USA TODAY Sports

While the Los Angeles Dodgers and San Francisco Giants took the field for the second of their three-game series, there was reason for both teams to keep one eye one the scoreboard.

The Washington Nationals entered play with their magic number at one to clinch homefield in the National League Division Series. And not long after the Dodgers and Giants were underway, the St. Louis Cardinals pulled to half-game back of San Francisco for the second Wild Card spot.

The New York Mets defeated the Philadelphia Phillies to ensure they will host the Wild Card Game on Wednesday. Meanwhile, the Dodgers faced their third left-handed starter in a row in rookie Ty Blach.

After he retired the side in order in the first inning, Clayton Kershaw followed suit, picking up one strikeout and setting the Giants down on just seven pitches.

Adrian Gonzalez lined a one-out single into left field, and Yasmani Grandal drew a walk, but Joc Pederson bounced into an inning-ending double play in the second. Kershaw picked up another strikeout and needed all of eight pitches to get through the bottom half of the inning.

The pitchers’ duel carried into the third with Blach striking out the side. Meanwhile, Kershaw remained perfect as he retired the bottom-third of the Giants’ lineup in order. Yasiel Puig singled with two outs in the fourth but it didn’t amount to anything.

It did, however, draw quite the quote from Vin Scully. “Puig doing what the good ones do. Not reacting, just playing ball. And with the crowd booing him, he singles sharply to left field,” Scully said.

Experimenting for the second time on the afternoon with a lower arm angle, Kershaw got Brandon Belt swinging for the second out in the bottom of the fourth. Buster Posey then broke up Kershaw’s perfect game with a sinking line drive that dropped in front of Howie Kendrick for a base hit.

Angel Pagan broke the scoreless tie with a fly ball to left field that carried just enough, bounced off the top of the wall in left field and into the stands for a leadoff home run in the fifth. Blach continued to work quickly and retired the Dodgers in order in the sixth.

Blach added to his impressive afternoon by lining a leadoff single into right field for his first Major League hit. Puig attempted to throw Blach out, but he was a couple seconds late. Gorkys Hernandez hit into a force out and Posey kept the inning alive by drawing a walk.

Pence rolled a grounder over to third, and the Dodgers’ deficit remained 1-0 after six innings. The Dodgers went down in order in the seventh, giving Blach 10 consecutive batters retired since Puig’s single in the fourth.

The wheels came off a bit for Kershaw and the Dodgers in the bottom of the seventh. After Pagan hit a leadoff single, Brandon Crawford’s comebacker hit off Kershaw and deflected toward Turner. He threw wide of first base and the two-base error allowed Pagan to score.

Gordon Beckham’s sacrifice fly then extended the Giants’ lead to 3-0. Pederson singled with one out in the eighth, then was erased on a force out. With Utley on first base, Kiké Hernandez pinch-hit for Kershaw but struck out to end the inning.

Including one relief appearance this season, Blach threw a combined 11 scoreless innings against the Dodgers, allowing just three hits and collecting seven strikeouts. Kenley Jansen issued a leadoff walk, gave up a one-out single to Pence and walked Pagan to load the bases.

Jansen worked out of the jam by getting back-to-back strikeouts. Sergio Romo came on in the ninth and earned the save in the Giants’ 3-0 win to help them keep pace with the Cardinals. The Dodgers’ loss cemented home-field advantage in the NLDS for the Nationals.