If you are about to get your first taste of the San Francisco Giants-Los Angeles Dodgers rivalry, there is no better way for a Giants starter to join the fray than with a matchup against Clayton Kershaw.
Giants rookie Shaun Anderson (2-1, 3.97 ERA) will have such an honor when he takes the mound Tuesday at Dodger Stadium. Anderson's outing will come one day after fellow rookie Tyler Beede earned his first career victory by defeating the Dodgers.
Anderson will be making just his seventh career start, but he appears to have settled in quickly. The right-hander picked up two wins over his last three starts and has a 3.32 ERA over his last three outings, all this month.
He tuned up for Tuesday's start by holding the San Diego Padres to two runs on four hits over six innings with three walks and six strikeouts at home on June 12. The Giants earned a 4-2 victory.
His first career victory came June 1 at Baltimore when he gave up two runs on five hits over a career-best seven innings with one walk and four strikeouts as the Giants earned an 8-2 victory.
He has not been around long, but he is savvy enough to know that he does not have to do it alone. For all of the last-place Giants' flaws, their bullpen entered play Monday as one of just two National League teams with an ERA under 4.00.
The Giants' bullpen closed out Beede's victory on Monday after giving up one run over three innings.
"Our bullpen is unbelievable, just the confidence you have in making a quality start and handing it over to the bullpen, you know it's almost a shutdown inning," Anderson said, according to the East Bay Times. "They work hard all year, and the trust is awesome to have that back there."
The Dodgers, however, have a porous bullpen that is one of their few flaws. Closer Kenley Jansen blew his third save opportunity Saturday in a loss to the Chicago Cubs, and the Giants scored the eventual game-winning run Monday against reliever Julio Urias.
But Kershaw (6-1, 3.13) has managed to make things easy on the pitchers in waiting. After taking his first loss of the season on June 7 against the Giants, Kershaw rebounded to get the win Thursday against the Chicago Cubs.
Despite a late start to the season when he had shoulder inflammation in spring training, Kershaw has gone at least six innings in every start this season and at least seven in five of his 11 starts.
Kershaw might not have the power fastball anymore, but the will to win is alive and well.
"It was a little bit of a grind," Dodgers manager Dave Roberts said of Kershaw's outing against the Cubs. "I appreciate the way he tried to continue to find that curveball, but just couldn't really get the feel for it. But like he seems to do, many times over, it's just make pitches when he needs to."
Kershaw has been a Giants' nemesis his entire career. He will enter Tuesday's start with a 22-11 record that seems short on victories considering he has a career 1.72 ERA against them in 330 1/3 innings.
The Giants' Pablo Sandoval left Monday's game after five innings with a hand injury, but the left-handed hitter was not expected to start against the lefty Kershaw on Tuesday.
--Field Level Media