Alex Wood remains spellbinding in Dodgers’ 1-0 victory over Diamondbacks

on Jul6

The Dodgers have scripted their Sunday afternoon.

The clock will strike 1, and a few minutes later, the team will take the field at Dodger Stadium. At 1:10 p.m., Clayton Kershaw will throw the game’s first pitch.

And, if the Dodgers have their way, a news release will be issued at about 1:11 p.m., with the announcement that Alex Wood has replaced Kershaw on the National League all-star team.

Might happen. Might not. But, on Wednesday, Wood did his very best to reiterate he belongs on the team.

Wood delivered seven shutout innings, carrying the Dodgers to a 1-0 victory over the Arizona Diamondbacks. He became the first Dodgers starter to open a season 10-0 since the team moved to Los Angeles. Don Newcombe last did it in 1955 — for the Brooklyn Dodgers, in their lone World Series championship season.

Wood’s earned-run average is 1.67, the lowest of any major league pitcher with at least 80 innings. But, because the Dodgers stashed him in the bullpen at the start of the season, he does not yet have enough innings to qualify for the league lead. He ranks 42nd in the NL in innings pitched.

The Dodgers, in third place on the first day of June, are threatening to run away with the NL West. The Colorado Rockies, mountain challengers to the throne, visited Dodger Stadium last month and got swept. The Diamondbacks, desert challengers to the throne, could get swept here on Thursday.

The Dodgers have won 22 of their past 26 games. They lead Arizona by 4-1/2 games and Colorado by 7. The only teams with larger division leads are the Houston Astros and Washington Nationals, neither of which competes in its division with another team over .500.

It is curious, and a bit ridiculous, that the best pitcher in baseball never has started an All-Star game. If Kershaw had started on Wednesday, when his turn originally was scheduled, he would have been fully rested for the All-Star game.

But, by using an off day to manipulate their rotation, the Dodgers figured out how to get an extra start out of Kershaw before the All-Star break. If they pushed him to Tuesday, he could pitch that day on regular rest, and again on Sunday, in the first-half finale.

Roberts said the team had discussed that arrangement with Kershaw.

“He’s made it very clear his priority is the Dodgers,” Roberts said.

The NL players voted for All-Star pitchers; Kershaw received the most votes. But, as soon as any pitcher starts on the Sunday before the All-Star game, he becomes ineligible — he wouldn’t be able to pitch in the game — and the league determines a replacement.

The Dodgers appear confident Wood will be Kershaw’s replacement.

“He’s very deserving,” Roberts said. “Obviously, he’s pitched well enough to join that team. … As I understand it, there still is an opportunity for him to play on that team.”

The Dodgers did not get a hit after the second inning. They got a grand total of three. They won.

Maybe that is a sign that this is their year. Or maybe this is: their Class A California League team put up eight runs — including three home runs — in one inning against Madison Bumgarner during his rehabilitation start Wednesday.

Whatever the case, let us detail the scoring here: With one out in the second inning, Chris Taylor singled, and Yasmani Grandal doubled him home. That is all.

The Dodgers made it a little suspenseful in the eighth inning. Roberts decided 85 pitches was enough for Wood and summoned Pedro Baez, who promptly threw five consecutive balls.

With no one warming in the bullpen, Roberts charged to the mound and told Baez to throw the bleeping ball over the plate. Baez retired three straight batters, Kenley Jansen worked the ninth for the save, and the Dodgers had the win.

Follow Bill Shaikin on Twitter @BillShaikin

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