Martinez crushes, pitching dominates as Dodgers win 5-0

Isaiah J. Downing-USA TODAY Sports
Excellent play on both ends of the ball leads to a series opening victory in Colorado.

It was a complete effort Tuesday night in the first of three games in Denver for the Dodgers.

The pitching staff threw their third shutout in 6 innings, and it was led by the dominance of Clayton Kershaw once again. In June, Kershaw has a 1.09 ERA, 0.88 WHIP with 30 Ks/8 BB in five starts and looks like a sure-fire all-star and in line for his second straight start in the MLB All-Star Game. But the other story of the night was J.D. Martinez, who blasted two home runs which led to 3 RBIs.

Martinez hit his 300th home run of his career and the Dodgers toasted him with champagne in the locker room post game. The offense was going to hit in Colorado because of the altitude and ballpark, but the main issue in past matchups between the Rockies and Dodgers was always pitching. On Tuesday, the offense showed up, even without Mookie Betts having a good game at the plate, and the pitching dominated again, although a late rally off of Phil Bickford loaded the bases. Evan Phillips unfortunately had to come in and clean up that mess, but the Dodgers escaped with a comfortable 5-0 victory.

Here are my three takeaways from the game:

Clayton Kershaw is As Good As Ever 

I can’t believe that it is 2023 and Kershaw is still putting up prime numbers. Actually…I can. Kershaw was the National League Pitcher of the Month in April and had a 1.89 ERA and  0.76 WHIP in six starts, but in June he has been even better than that. Boasting that 1.09 ERA in five starts, there is no doubt that Kershaw still has what it takes to be the ace of this staff and one of the best pitchers in all of baseball. He essentially removed himself from the game after 79 pitches, but there is no injury concern, and he just seemed to be fatigued. At 35 years old, he is 10-4 with a 2.55 ERA on the year, which both rank among the best in the National League.

James Outman Continues His Hot Streak

Much was made about Cody Bellinger’s departure from the club, but the Dodgers knew that they had somebody waiting to fill that spot. With his 2-for-5 game on Tuesday, James Outman is now 11-for-36 (.305) in his last 10 games. After a very rough May and start to June, he is looking like that Rookie of the Year candidate that Dodger fans thought they were getting. I expect Outman to continue to hit and play solid defense based on his athleticism and talent alone. He is a rookie so, of course. he will have growing pains but this is a guy that can be in the Dodgers’ outfield for years to come and they’re going to need him to contribute this season to finish out the bottom half of the lineup.

The Bullpen is Turning It Around

I have been very critical of not just the bullpen, but the entire staff as of late. Man, are they proving me wrong. The Dodgers’ bullpen the last seven games has thrown 29 1/3 innings and have only given up one earned run (0.31 ERA). What an insane turnaround for a staff that was near the very bottom in bullpen ERA and total runs given up. Although Phil Bickford had another hiccup in the 9th inning, the pitching was stellar on Tuesday, which is impressive considering they were in one of the most hitter friendly ballparks in the MLB. With Julio Urias expected to come back from the IL soon, things are turning around at the right time, but I believe a move is still needed to solidify the staff.

The Dodgers haven’t made a decision on a starter for Wednesday as of late Tuesday night but I assume they will use an opener to toe the rubber against Kyle Freeland for the Colorado Rockies Wednesday. The first pitch is set for 5:40 p.m. PT.