Money talks: Kershaw tops Greinke in MLB’s most expensive pitching matchup

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LOS ANGELES – The money was not insignificant. None of them out there played for free, after all. Some people’s houses were bigger than others, probably, and some have already taken care of their great grandchildren, whenever they may get here, a couple generations from now. But, nobody took the city bus to work Friday night. That would be the point.

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An awful lot is made of the money, how much they’re paid and whether they’re worth it and if there isn’t a smarter way to spend it, but in the end the workers get it or the owners get it, so it seems the guy with the baseball in his hand and the ligament just dying to break into two pieces deserves his share too.

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They are friends, relating as you’d think two who share a craft and are among the best in the world at it would. Their wives are friends. They have children about the same age. They played three seasons together here. Kershaw won the Cy Young Award in two of them. Greinke was eighth, seventh and second in the same balloting. What they experienced was the same heavy expectations, the same freeway traffic, the same three division titles, the same three October flameouts.

discount mlb apparel You have to remind yourself the Dodgers didn’t win those years. They got close once. But they’re working on a 29th year without it, so really anything beyond that is details.

baseball jerseys for sale View photosZack Greinke Jerseys is off to another slow start for Arizona. (Getty Images)MoreThen Greinke opted out of his contract, out of L.A., out of annual relevance (as it turned out), out of $71 million over three years and into $206.5 million over six, and that would explain all the boos Friday night at Dodger Stadium. He could have heard them during pre-game introductions, then again when he was coming to bat in the third inning. He seemed to smile then, a bit of mirth unusual for Greinke, so maybe it wasn’t a smile, or maybe he was acknowledging the coming battle with Kershaw, or maybe he had some intestinal discomfort. It can be hard to tell with him.

He did, however, win 51 games as a Dodger, along with two more over three postseasons, when his ERA in six October starts was 2.38. It wasn’t his fault they didn’t win. And in 48 career starts at Dodger Stadium – as a Brewer, a Dodger and a Diamondback — he was 29-6 with a 2.19 ERA, so hardly anyone here had ever seen him pitch poorly, really because over much of his career he hadn’t pitched poorly, not anywhere.

That is, until most of last year, and then until Friday night, when the meeting of the pay pals leaned wholly to Kershaw and the Dodgers, and the being that is Greinke the Diamondback continued to perform below the standard set by Greinke the anything else. This has been a real problem for the Diamondbacks, as his salary is approximately one-third their payroll, and his ERA — after giving up 10 hits and five runs in five innings to the Dodgers on Friday night — is 4.24, across a season and three starts. Even if the new general manager — Mike Hazen — hoped to pivot away from Greinke’s salary, and he hasn’t said so, in order to build a more flexible roster, Greinke the pitcher would not be helping Greinke the trade commodity. This cheap jerseys is where the money conversation would get more interesting, beyond just the wow-those-two-guys-make-a-lot-of-money angle.

“I thought his fastball still had life,” Kershaw said, speaking of his three fruitless at-bats against Greinke. “And his changeup got me to swing every time. So, looked pretty good to me.”

Read MoreView photosClayton Kershaw Jerseys dominated the red-hot Diamondbacks on Friday night. (Getty Images)MoreMeantime, the significance of Kershaw vs. Greinke, Dodger Stadium, in April is as simple as which of the two seems more likely to carry his club through the summer, then into October. By that measure, it’s what you may have suspected. Kershaw, at 29, remains on his game, meaning the best offense in the game over the season’s first week-and-a-half managed three singles, a double and a run against him over 8 1/3 innings, in a game the Dodgers won, 7-1. In fact, on the way to their 7-3 start, the Diamondbacks had been excellent offensively and in their starting pitching, neither of which went so well in Game No. 11.

Half of that was Kershaw, who’d slept six nights on a six-inning, three-homer, four-run start in Colorado. The result was a shutout into the ninth inning, eight strikeouts against one walk, the 128th win of his career against 61 losses, and another reminder that the money doesn’t spend out there. Stuff spends. Command spends. Cleverness spends. Defense helps. A couple hits with runners in scoring position, too, and maybe a two-run homer by Andrew Toles, whose salary is $540,000.

Musing beforehand about what promised to be an interesting game, at the least, Dodgers manager Dave Roberts had laid out the virtues of both starting pitchers. He smiled and concluded, “I’ll bet on Clayton.”

It seemed reasonable then. It seems reasonable now.

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