Clayton Kershaw and Giancarlo Stanton had a classic movie-ready battle on Tuesday night
Clayton Kershaw is the most dominant pitcher in the game.
Giancarlo Stanton is the most powerful masher of dingers our universe possesses.
On Tuesday night, the two squared off in Dodger Stadium and the world shifted on its axis. Like Rocky and Apollo, Godzilla and Mothra or John Travolta and Nicolas Cage in "Face/Off," their matchup was primed and ready for the big screen treatment.
The two started the picture off slowly, letting the suspense build. In the top of the second, Kershaw nabbed the top of the outside corner with a fastball before going diagonally across the plate to get Stanton to ground out on a slider. It was subtle, but effective. Kershaw takes the early lead.
In Stanton's next at-bat, Kershaw followed the same path. He started Stanton off with a high fastball, that was called for a ball, before going after him with two sliders down and in that Stanton couldn't touch. The left-hander then finished Stanton off with a big, looping curveball down and away that had Stanton swinging at thin air.
It was the equivalent of Henry Rowengartner's floater at the end of "Rookie of the Year." Or the aliens defeated by glasses of water at the end of "Signs" -- all that power and bluster defeated with the softest of touches.
But, just as the classic scriptwriting manual "Save the Cat" writes, the third act of the film comes after it appears that all is lost. The Avengers seemed doomed against Loki and the Chitauri warriors. The Rebellion seemed certain to lose to the Death Star in "A New Hope." The walk was destined to not be remembered in "A Walk to Remember." (I never saw this one, sorry, but guessing this was how it ended.)
With Kershaw laboring in the sixth inning, Stanton stepped to the plate for his third act with two men on. Kershaw missed low with his slider to take the count to 1-0. With his next pitch, he wanted to change up his routine with a fastball down and in. Instead, he left it up and out over the plate.
And when you do that against Stanton, well, this tends to happen:
As Kershaw told MLB.com's Ken Gurnick after the the game:
"He's a pretty good hitter. Obviously, you don't want their best hitter to beat you and that's what happened today."
For Stanton, the Statcast-measured 432.7 foot shot was his third straight game with a home run. For Kershaw, it was the end of an 844-inning streak since the last time he surrendered a three-run homer.
While Stanton may have helped the Marlins to a 6-3 win, baseball and big budget blockbusters always have room for sequels. Just as Kershaw and Stanton had squared off 15 times coming into Tuesday, the two are certain to face each other again. We'll have to wait a while to see it, though, as the Dodgers don't travel to Miami until Sept. 8.
Whether Kershaw will ever be able to prove his hitting prowess, as he did with two hits on Tuesday, against Stanton's mound offerings, that may just have to be a post-credits teaser.