Aug 06

It’s been 85 starts since Clayton Kershaw was knocked out of a game


On April 16, 2011, the St. Louis Cardinals led 2-1 against Clayton Kershaw and the Dodgers heading into the fifth inning, then broke the game open with a two-out, three-run home run.

Kershaw, who had been dodging baserunners the entire outing — 11 in 4 2/3 innings — and had reached the 111-pitch mark, was pulled from the game.

He hasn’t been knocked out of a game before the five-inning mark since.

In 85 starts since that day, Kershaw has thrown fewer than five innings only one time, and that was his 2012 Opening Day outing at San Diego, when he pitched three shutout innings before leaving because of the flu (“Kershaw Hurls. Dodgers to victory”).

In fact, the reigning National League Pitcher of the Month has thrown at least six innings in 75 of those 85 starts, including his past 18 in a row. He has gone at least seven innings in 16 of those past 18.

And during that 85-game run? A 2.23 ERA with 609 strikeouts in 605 innings.

Kershaw, as you might have heard by now, is within range of the lowest ERA for a season by a Dodger pitcher since Sandy Koufax, which would be the lowest in Los Angeles Dodger history. What might be lost in that discussion is that because of the different eras, Kershaw is on pace for the best adjusted ERA in Dodger history, dating back to 1901.

He is 25 years old. I hope you are appreciating what you are seeing.

Rk Player ERA+ Year Age Tm IP ERA
1 Clayton Kershaw 191 2013 25 LAD 168.1 1.87
2 Sandy Koufax 190 1966 30 LAD 323.0 1.73
3 Dazzy Vance 190 1928 37 BRO 280.1 2.09
4 Dazzy Vance 189 1930 39 BRO 258.2 2.61
5 Sandy Koufax 186 1964 28 LAD 223.0 1.74
6 Dazzy Vance 174 1924 33 BRO 308.1 2.16
7 Rube Marquard 171 1916 29 BRO 205.0 1.58
8 Orel Hershiser 171 1985 26 LAD 239.2 2.03
9 Kevin Brown 169 2003 38 LAD 211.0 2.39
10 Kevin Brown 167 2000 35 LAD 230.0 2.58
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Play Index Tool Used
Generated 8/6/2013.

Dodgers at Cardinals, 5:15 p.m.
Kershaw CLXXIII: Kershawd Couple

Jul 02

Dodgers livin’ the dream, 8-0

There was no life I’d known to compare with pure imagination.

And then Yasiel Puig came along, joining Clayton Kershaw on what had been a lonesome, uphill journey.

And the rest of the Dodgers followed.

They were so bad, and now they’re so good. With their 8-0 shutout in Colorado tonight, the Dodgers have won nine games out of 10, moving into fourth place, .00058 behind the San Diego Padres, and 2 1/2 games out of first.

It’s remarkable to think that without the injuries and the losing and frankly, the depression, Puig would have come from the seas of the Atlantic only as far as the woods of Tennessee. But the road west opened for Puig, and tonight, he did to Coors Field exactly what you’d expect Puig to do to Coors Field – given that fact that Puig himself is pure imagination.

Matt Kemp is the living reality check on the Puig phenomenon, the former All-Everything going 0 for 5 with three strikeouts and, almost tenderly, the most encouraging out of the night, a 400-plus blast to the fence in deepest Coors.

But otherwise, reality, or what used to serve as reality, seemed far away. Hanley Ramirez had another two hits, including a double. Adrian Gonzalez had two hits, including a homer.  Juan Uribe had two RBI singles. A.J. Ellis anted up and drew two pair, walks and doubles.

And Ace was Rocky Mountain High.

Five years and change into his major-league career, Clayton Kershaw remains as sweet as a river of chocolate. He threw his second shutout of the season, dominating the Rockies with eight strikeouts, no walks and but one runner getting as far as second base. He ended the 27-game hitting streak of Michael Cuddyer in the process.

The pitcher whose ERA in the second half of the season has been lower than the first half every year of his career dropped his 2013 mark to 1.93, with two starts to go before this year’s All-Star Game, a game he will certainly be a part of.

Lately, there’s been much debate about whether Puig will join him, to which I say, whatever happens, happens. If we’re meant to keep Puig for ourselves for a little while longer, I am content, come what may.

In other words, if you want to view paradise, simply look around and view it.

May 20

Dodgers 3, Brewers 1: Kershaw throws a Kershaw

How close was Clayton Kershaw to a perfect game tonight?

Kershaw retired the first six Milwaukee Brewers tonight on 16 pitches, then walked Rickie Weeks, who had a .554 OPS entering the game, on five.

His next pitch was a ball to Yuniesky Betancourt, who followed with a single. Two infield outs later, Weeks scored.

Ryan Braun singled in the fourth and sixth innings, and Norichika Aoki reached base on a Dee Gordon throwing error in the eighth.

That was it: 107 pitches, 32 batters, 22 first-pitch strikes, three hits, one walk, five strikeouts. On five days’ rest after throwing a career-high 132 pitches, Kershaw dusted the Brewers, 3-1.

It wasn’t a perfect game. It wasn’t a shutout. But there should be a noun for the ease and control that Kershaw (who also singled in three at-bats) dominated Milwaukee.

Kershaw walked Weeks for the same reason Vin Scully sometimes says the wrong name, for that one time that Mother Theresa asked for seconds, for that spot on the Sistine Chapel floor where MIchelangelo let a drop of paint drip.

Kershaw threw a Kershaw.

* * *

Nice to see you again, Andre Ethier and Matt Kemp.

Ethier tripled and homered. Kemp walked and homered. For Kemp, it was home run No. 2 on the season and really the first one he blasted, because home run No. 1 was an inside-out job that barely cleared the right-field fence in New York’s Citi Field.

 

May 08

Clayton Kershaw and the waiting game

Two facts as I know them:

Matt Kemp: Guaranteed $128 million after 2013, no matter what happens.

Tim Lincecum: Guaranteed $0 after 2013.

Clayton Kershaw has every reason to expect his next contract to be the richest in baseball history for a pitcher, at a figure that has risen with each passing year.

I can understand why he might not want there to be negotiations during the season. Kershaw is young, and in top physical condition. Baseball is his oyster.

But there is a figure I would imagine Kershaw could sign for today that would be beyond his dreams of even 12 months ago, a figure that would provide unimaginable amounts for his family and for his charitable endeavors. At some point, isn’t the security of locking in that figure worth grabbing?

Just wondering …

Diamondbacks at Dodgers, 7:10 p.m.
Kershaw CLVII: Kershawt in the Hat

Dee Gordon, SS
Nick Punto, 2B
Matt Kemp, CF
Adrian Gonzalez, 1B
A.J. Ellis, C
Andre Ethier, RF
Juan Uribe, 3B
Elian Herrera, LF
Clayton Kershaw, P

Carl Crawford’s hamstring is acting up, reports from the beat writers say. Meanwhile, Justin Sellers was optioned, and Tim Federowicz was recalled.

Apr 24

Mark Ellis powers Dodgers, 7-2, after Kershaw struggles

What can baseball do?

Baseball can give you joy when you can imagine only sadness.

It can also give you the reverse, but enough about last week with the Dodgers. This is this week.

For two consecutive games, the Dodgers have won when you would have thought they would lose. They won when Chad Billingsley was unable to start Sunday, and they won in New York, 7-2, after an uncharacteristic disintegration by Clayton Kershaw on Tuesday.

Kershaw, to be fair, only allowed two runs, but it was shocking how it happened. Twelve pitches in into the third inning, 39 pitches into the game, Kershaw had retired all eight batters he had faced and had a 1-2 count on an emergency relief pitcher making his first career plate appearance. Moments later, he was trailing 2-1 and barely escaping a bases-loaded jam with a Marlon Byrd groundout, and after two more innings and 111 total pitches – matching the most he has ever thrown in the majors without reaching the sixth inning – his night was over. It was the second consecutive outing in which an opposing pitcher ended a perfect start by Kershaw.

Photos by Jon SooHoo/Los Angeles Dodgers

Fortunately for the Dodgers, Mark Ellis has shown up like a combination of Florence Nightengale and the Tooth Fairy. Ellis, who Sunday drove in the Dodgers’ first three runs and also made a critical defensive play, all but singlehandedly put the Dodgers on his back Tuesday, with a game-tying home run in the fifth inning – the 100th of his career – and then a leap-from-your-seat three-run blast with two out in the seventh to put Los Angeles ahead to stay. (Not for nothing, Ellis also knocked out Mets starter Jonathon Niese in the third inning with a hard shot up the middle.)

Ellis’ second home run, as Eric Stephen of True Blue L.A. noted, made him only the third Dodger second baseman in a century and first in 39 years with four hits and two homers in a game. The 35-year-old (how can such a veteran’s veteran be 10 years younger than me) himself has now thrice homered twice in a game. I also dare say that you won’t find another night in history when Dodger and Angel second basemen each hit two home runs, including tiebreaking homers for both, but I leave you the research challenge.

Not to be lost amid Ellis’ glory is the day Justin Sellers had – three hits, including an RBI single in the second and another coming ahead of Ellis’ second homer. (Juan Uribe drew a walk to keep that inning alive.) After starting the season 0 for 13, Sellers is 11 for 37 with a homer and five walks in his past 12 games (.409 on-base percentage, .378 slugging) and hasn’t made an error since his unfortunate second game of 2013. As hot as Dee Gordon has been at the plate in Albuquerque, Sellers has allowed the Dodgers to remove the yellow caution tape around shortstop.

A.J. Ellis doubled in two insurance runs in the eighth and now leads all major-league catchers with a .446 on-base percentage and NL catchers with a 159 adjusted OPS, and not because the pitcher is batting behind him – he has batted no lower than seventh except for in the third game of the season. Matt Kemp had two more hits and is now 17 for his past 55 (.309) with four doubles, as MLB.com noted, while Andre Ethier doubled ahead of A.J. to slow a 2-for-25 slump.

In addition, the topsy-turvy Dodger bullpen of 2013 has gone back to topsy, pitching at least four innings of shutout ball for the second consecutive game, sparked by a comeback performance by struggling Ronald Belisario (three batters, three outs on 15 pitches, 12 for strikes).

Los Angeles is now 9-4 when it isn’t losing six games in a row. Joy and sadness, that’s our game. With Ted Lilly against Matt Harvey tonight, it figures to be more of the same.

Apr 17

Kershaw eyes 1,000th strikeout

MLB pitchers with 1,000 strikeouts at age 25

Rk Player SO From To Age G IP H BB ERA ERA+
1 Bert Blyleven 1546 1970 1976 19-25 252 1909.0 1699 484 2.80 132
2 Walter Johnson 1461 1907 1913 19-25 273 2070.1 1586 417 1.60 176
3 Dwight Gooden 1391 1984 1990 19-25 211 1523.2 1282 449 2.82 125
4 Sam McDowell 1384 1961 1968 18-25 223 1305.0 985 686 2.96 115
5 Fernando Valenzuela 1274 1980 1986 19-25 210 1554.2 1295 540 2.94 119
6 Felix Hernandez 1264 2005 2011 19-25 205 1388.1 1275 424 3.24 128
7 Don Drysdale 1236 1956 1962 19-25 271 1629.2 1465 490 3.21 126
8 Bob Feller 1233 1936 1941 17-22 205 1448.1 1149 815 3.18 136
9 Christy Mathewson 1198 1901 1906 20-25 249 1960.0 1675 493 2.15 138
10 Frank Tanana 1120 1973 1979 19-25 193 1411.1 1238 377 2.93 122
11 Hal Newhouser 1120 1939 1946 18-25 261 1609.0 1336 752 2.72 141
12 Denny McLain 1098 1963 1969 19-25 213 1501.2 1221 422 3.04 113
13 Larry Dierker 1080 1964 1972 17-25 236 1624.0 1478 437 3.17 108
14 Catfish Hunter 1062 1965 1971 19-25 248 1586.1 1389 502 3.42 96
15 Joe Coleman 1019 1965 1972 18-25 222 1416.1 1250 503 3.30 101
16 Clayton Kershaw 999 2008 2013 20-25 154 967.1 744 345 2.75 140
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Play Index Tool Used
Generated 4/17/2013.
Padres at Dodgers, 7:10 p.m.
Kershaw CLIII: Kershawrgo

Carl Crawford, LF
Mark Ellis, 2B
Andre Ethier, RF
Adrian Gonzalez, 1B
A.J. Ellis, C
Skip Schumaker, CF
Nick Punto, 3B
Justin Sellers, SS
Clayton Kershaw, P
Apr 12

Diamondbacks waste Kershaw and Dodgers, 3-0

The rule about who covers second base on a stolen-base attempt isn’t hard and fast. Generally, you choose the opposite-field defender (second baseman for a right-handed batter, shortstop for a left-handed batter), but scouting and sixth senses might convince you to do the opposite, as the Dodgers did in the fourth inning tonight when Arizona’s Gerardo Parra took off from first base with right-handed hitting Martin Prado at the plate.

Justin Sellers vacated his shortstop position, and Prado pulled a 94-mph Clayton Kershaw fastball right where Sellers’ shadow sat, into left field for a hit-and-run single. Instead of a double play, the Diamondbacks had runners on first and third with none out against Kershaw, who to that point was still unscored upon in 19 innings this season.

The 6-4-3 double play came from the next batter, courtesy of Paul Goldschmidt, but it delivered the first run of the season against Kershaw … and ennervatingly for the Dodgers, the critical piece of a 3-0 Arizona victory.

The Dodgers, who left 10 runners on base tonight for a total of 85 in their first 10 games, had two key opportunities to score on behalf of Kershaw. In the top of the fourth, they loaded the bases against Arizona starter Patrick Corbin on two walks and an infield single by Sellers, before Kershaw himself had a potential RBI single taken away by second baseman Josh Wilson.

Then in the eighth, Matt Kemp singled and went to third on two wild pitches by Diamondbacks reliever David Hernandez, the second of them ball four to Adrian Gonzalez. The red-hot Carl Crawford, lurking on the bench, came up as a pinch-hitter, but he struck out on a pitch in the dirt, and then Andre Ethier grounded out.

Kershaw came to the mound for the bottom of the eighth needing one strikeout for 1,000 in his career, but was forced out of the game after a single, a bunt single and a 3-2 walk to Parra. Kershaw threw 111 pitches, allowing six hits and three walks while striking out nine.

Shawn Tolleson, the high-school contemporary of Kershaw who was called up from Albuquerque to temporarily replace Zack Greinke on the Dodger roster and help a suddenly depleted Dodger bullpen, was chosen ahead of lefty J.P. Howell to pitch to Prado and Goldschmidt, but walked them both to force in the game’s second and third runs. Each was charged to Kershaw, whose ERA rose from 0.39 to 1.16 while he watched from the bench. Howell then came in to strike out left-handed Miguel Montero and retire right-handed Alfredo Marte on a liner to third.

Had the bullpen bailed Kershaw out of that last jam, Kershaw would have tied four other pitchers for the second-longest streak in major-league history of allowing no more than one run, as Jim McLennan of AZ Snakepit noted. Kershaw settled for seven starts in a row.

In their last-gasp ninth inning, Nick Punto hit a one-out single up the middle off J.J. Putz, who then walked Skip Schumaker. But Jerry Hairston Jr. hit into a game-ending double play, the double play that didn’t come soon enough for Kershaw in the fourth.

Even in defeat, Kershaw continues to astonish.  His 19-inning scoreless streak to start 2013 is the second longest by a starter in Dodger history and the longest by anyone on the team since Jim Gott’s 19 1/3 innings in 1993. Ridiculously, Kershaw has lost his last four starts against Arizona and is 7-6 lifetime despite an ERA against them of 2.37.

Los Angeles (6-4, a game behind Arizona in the National League West) finished its first 10 games of 2013 with 27 runs.

Apr 06

Kershaw lovely and amazing again in 1-0 Dodger victory

Luis Tiant (1966) and Harry Breechen (1948) each threw three shutouts to start the season. Since 1916, 32 other pitchers, including lone Dodger member Karl Spooner in 1954, had a pair of shutouts to open the year, according to Baseball-Reference.com.

Clayton Kershaw looked like he might join the party tonight against Pittsburgh, before settling for the consolation prize of merely maintaining his 0.00 ERA.

Kershaw threw seven shutout innings tonight before handing a 1-0 lead to the Dodger bullpen, which held the line for the team’s second consecutive whitewash victory over the Pirates.

Friday, Zack Greinke retired 14 batters in a row between the two hits he allowed. Tonight, Kershaw gave up a leadoff single to Starling Marte, then set down 17 in a row before Marte’s two-out infield single in the sixth.

With two out in the seventh, Kershaw issued his first walk of the season on a 3-2 pitch to Russell Martin. Three pitches later, he picked Martin off first base to bring on the seventh-inning stretch, but after 97 pitches, Don Mattingly decided not to start a new inning with his ace and told him – in a not-so-brief dugout conversation – his night was over.

Paco Rodriguez struck out left-handed hitting Pedro Alvarez to start the eighth, then Kenley Jansen retired the next two batters on 10 pitches. The fact that Jansen had also thrown 18 pitches 24 hours earlier helped mitigate any debate over the inevitable decision to turn to Brandon League to close the game in the ninth.

League issued a two-out walk with Pirates All-Star Andrew McCutchen on deck, but McCutchen grounded out to Mark Ellis on League’s next and last pitch. As the Dodger postgame press notes stated, the Dodger bullpen has pitched 10 1/3 scoreless and hitless innings in 2013, walking two and striking out nine.

In his seven innings, Kershaw struck out nine, giving him 16 in 16 innings. Opponents are 6 for 53 against him this year with a .132 on-base percentage.

Fernando Valenzuela, in case you’re wondering, allowed a run in his second career start in 1981, in between throwing shutouts in four of his first five starts. Valenzuela also allowed no earned runs but four unearned runs in his first four starts of 1985.

The Dodgers got their run on an infield single by Carl Crawford, his first stolen base and an RBI single by Mark Ellis. Crawford went 2 for 3 with a walk and is now 7 for 16 with two walks as a Dodger; Ellis (2 for 4) is 6 for 16 with a walk in 2013.

Adrian Gonzalez went 2 for 3 with a walk to raise his on-base percentage to .450 and his OPS to .888.

That trio is 18 for 48 this year. The rest of the Dodgers are 13 for 103, and tonight, the team went 2 for 14 with runners in scoring position and stranded 10.

The left side of the Dodger infield is 0 for 33 this year with two walks, one intentional, leaving it within striking distance Sunday of making Eugenio Velez’s 0 for 37 in 2011 look quaint. Matt Kemp, meanwhile, went 0 for 4 and is now hitting .056.

Five games into the season, the Dodgers have allowed four earned runs in 45 innings for an 0.80 ERA. Total runs: 11 for the Dodgers, 8 for the visitors.

 

Sep 18

Clayton Kershaw update

Statement from the Dodgers at 3:30 p.m.:

Today, Clayton Kershaw was examined by Dr. Bryan Kelly at Hospital for Special Surgery in New York. Dr. Kelly is one of the premier hip specialists in the country and agreed with Dr. ElAttrache’s opinion that Clayton has an impingement of the right hip. (This is when the joint is pinched during rotation of the hip while pitching) Dr. Kelly feels that Clayton can continue to pitch if pain allows without doing further damage to his hip. However, Clayton will not be allowed to pitch if he continues to have hip pain. He will re-start his throwing program today.

We will continue the process of seeking other hip specialist’s opinions and have already sent his MRI’s and other tests to those doctors for their opinions.

Aug 20

Bumgarner delivers maverick performance to stifle Dodgers

OK, maybe Madison Bumgarner will win the NL Cy Young Award.

In the kind of pitching duel that helped catapult Clayton Kershaw to top pitcher honors in the league last year, it was the San Francisco lefty who delivered the extra squeeze, shutting out the Dodgers with 10 strikeouts and no walks over eight innings in a 2-1 Giants victory.

Kershaw also had 10 strikeouts in eight innings – not to mention two of the four Dodger hits off Bumgarner, and a diving catch in foul territory – but he gave in for single runs in the first and sixth innings, each driven in by Pablo Sandoval, and ended up on the short end. The second run was safe at most by milliseconds.

Kershaw has the lowest career ERA against the Giants that any pitcher has against any single team in major-league history since 1920 – 1.32 going into tonight’s game, 1.39 now – but after going 5-0 with a 1.07 ERA against San Francisco last year, he is 1-3 despite a 1.74 ERA against the Giants this year.

Folk hero Luis Cruz had the other two hits against Bumgarner, who threw 123 pitches while getting the rest of the Dodgers to go 0 for 21. Hanley Ramirez homered off Sergio Romo with two out in the ninth, but lefty Javier Lopez came in to shut down Andre Ethier to end the game and put San Francisco back in first place in the National League West by half a game.