By Jon Weisman
Clayton Kershaw struck out nine for the fourth time in six Major League starts this season tonight and would have left tied, 2-2, if not for a sixth-inning wild pitch that could have been ruled a passed ball on Drew Butera.
But Kershaw has allowed extra-base hits at an unusual rate in May. Put it this way: Cincinnati had five extra-base hits this evening (four doubles and Brandon Phillips’ two-run, first-inning home run), a total that matches the number of extra-base hits Kershaw allowed in all of April 2013.
With the Reds racking up 14 total bases in 28 at-bats against Kershaw tonight, opponents have slugged .464 (52 for 112) against the lefty this month, compared with a career opponents’ slugging of .314 and .277 last season. Of course, this month’s figure was influenced by the highly unusual second inning at Arizona on May, when he allowed three triples and a double in a stretch of six batters.
Overall, Kershaw was a strong pitcher in May, throwing four quality starts with a 2.00 ERA in non-Arizona games and striking out 39 in 28 2/3 innings (12.2 K/9). His strikeout-walk ratio of 6.6 to date is the best of his career. It’s that remarkable when opponents can touch him at all.
As for the Dodgers themselves, they scratched across a run in the fifth and got a Yasiel Puig homer in the sixth, but twice stranded Dee Gordon at third base with one out, in the first and eighth innings. Aroldis Chapman, throwing his fastball in the triple digits, put out the Dodgers in the ninth.