THE GAME: Dodgers vs Phillies
If you told me that Clayton Kershaw has a losing record against two National League teams, I would have two reactions.
The first would be to say "Really?" This is the seventh season in a row that I have considered him the best pitcher in the NL.
My second reaction would be to try and guess the two teams. It wouldn't be one of the teams in the NL West; the more Kershaw has played a team, the more likely he has a winning record, obviously.
My first guess would have been the Cardinals. I don't have any regular-season anecdotes, just the memory of Kershaw struggling against the Cards in the postseason, so it would seem a logical guess. (And also, you've probably figured out, an incorrect one: Kershaw is 6-5 against St. Louis.)
My next guess would have been Cincinnati. Again, no evidence off the top of my head, but Great American Ballpark is a homer-happy park, so I would have guessed maybe he'd had a couple of bad starts and has a losing record against the Reds. (Again wrong: he is 3-2 against Cincinnati.)
It turns out his losing records are against the Pirates (2-3) and Phillies (3-4).
But the Phillies this year ain't what they have been. So I'm guessing it doesn't happen today.
I decided to do another competition this evening. For National Cheeseburger Day, I'm taking on one of my favorite fast food cheeseburgers.
NOTES ON THE FOOD:
- I've mentioned before that I'm not really a McDonald's fan, but for some reason I love their McDouble.
- The beef I used is USDA Prime from my local butcher. I grilled it on cast iron, rehydrated some onions, and used Bubbies pickles.
- Two patties and a slice of McDonald's cheese weighed 2.54 ounces. How the hell is that possible? One-ounce burger patties?
- I thought I was making my patties ridiculously small - please believe me when I say that I have made more than 500 burgers in my life, and never have I made a burger patty this small - but mine still clocked in 3.74 ounces, a full 68% larger than McDonald's.
- I used a slice of Tillamook cheddar.
- I'm not scoring this one round by round, because if I did, what I'm about to tell you won't make any sense: I liked the McDouble more.
- Every ingredient I used was higher quality - with the possible exception of the bun; I love McDonald's regular white buns - and it's possible that if I served these two burgers to ten friends, every single one of them might prefer mine.
- But when combining everything together, the McDonald's burger always provides an umami sensation that my burger just didn't.
- I can make a burger that I vastly prefer to the Big Mac - as I did a couple of weeks ago. I can make a version of the Double-Double that I like more. Five Guys, Fatburger, Shake Shack... all great burgers, but I would not be afraid to go up against any of them. But I'm not sure if I can make a better version of McDonald's $1.39 burger.
NOTES ON THE GAME:
- Chris Taylor hits an inside-the-park home run on the second pitch of the game. How many inside-the-park leadoff homers have you ever seen? Alcides Escobar had one in the World Series two years ago; that's the only other one I can remember.
- Justin Turner hits a (traditional) homer run on the 5th pitch of the game.
- Kershaw gives up an infield single in the first inning that bounced off his glove. That's just bad luck.
- Chase Utley gets a standing ovation from the Philly fans. So Santa Claus gets booed but Utley and Mike Trout get cheered? That's cool with me.
- The last Dodger to lead off a game with an inside-the-park homer? Dave Roberts in 2003. How do you like that?
- Puig hits into a 5-4-3 double play. Has he gotten slower? (Mike Trout certainly has, so it's possible Puig has, too.)
- Joe Davis just asked if Orel Hershisher could name the four pitchers who have each won four or more Cy Young Awards. It took him several hints (and wrong guesses) to get them. That surprised me.
- Philly gets their second hit - and first non-lucky one - in the 4th inning. Dammit, Clayton, pull your head out of your ass!
- Justin Turner just made one of the longest throws you'll ever see from third to first base. That's worth seeking out the video if you have a spare moment.
- Kershaw has loaded the bases in the 6th - and two of them came on walks. I have a bad feeling about this. He's missing his spots.
- Yep, sure enough: the next batter hits a grand slam. That's the first grand slam Kershaw has given up. In his entire career. It's been that kind of September for the Dodgers.
- That was the 104th batter Kershaw has faced in his career with the bases loaded. The previous 103 had hit .193 with 34 strikeouts and, obviously, 0 home runs.
- The umpires come out in the top of the 9th to check the Phillies pitcher's hat. It's covered with rosin and Hershisher starts complaining about how that shouldn't be allowed. Finally Joe Davis quiets him by saying "Right... it's been checked at this point." Translation: "Shut up and stop whining, Orel."
- Granderson with a solo homer with one out. The Dodgers have two outs to get one run.
- They cannot. Phillies win 4-3. They got all the runs on one pitch.
- Kershaw wasn't great in that 6th inning, but the offense scored two runs in the first five pitches and then nothing until the solo homer in the 9th.
- If that doesn't cut it against one of the worst teams in baseball, that probably won't cut it in the postseason.
- Any rate, Kershaw is now 3-5 against the Phillies and I was totally wrong about him having a great game.
- The Dodgers are now 5-13 in September.