Dodger Thoughts

Jon Weisman's outlet for dealing psychologically with the Los Angeles Dodgers, baseball and life

Behold 14-K Clayton Kershaw at the top of his game

Jon SooHoo/Los Angeles Dodgers

Jon SooHoo/Los Angeles Dodgers

By Jon Weisman

In a glorious performance that was the humidity-soaked version of last year’s crisp and cool no-hitter, Clayton Kershaw phenomenalized the Washington Nationals this afternoon, striking out 14 batters without a walk in eight shutout innings of a 4-2 Dodger victory.

Making his 228th start in his seventh Major League season, Kershaw marched with the mercenary drumbeat of two strikeouts every inning for the first seven innings, and was a serious threat to the franchise record of 18 strikeouts in a game (held by Sandy Koufax and Ramon Martinez) until a perfect eighth inning that featured three groundouts.

With a pitch count (101) approximating the heat index, Kershaw then called it a day, backed by a lead that was the product of an Adrian Gonzalez double and 12 singles. Kershaw’s 14 strikeouts, one shy of the career-high 15 he had in the no-hitter, included three of leading National League Most Valuable Player candidate Bryce Harper each time they squared off. (Harper later hit a two-run homer in the ninth off Kenley Jansen, who otherwise struck out the side himself.)

Each Dodger outfielder had exactly one putout behind Kershaw today (14 strikeouts, seven groundouts, three flyouts). According to Eric Stephen of True Blue L.A., Kershaw is the first Dodgers pitcher with at least 13 strikeouts in consecutive games since Chan Ho Park from Sept. 24-29 2000, and the first with back-to-back starts of double-digit strikeouts and no walks since Dazzy Vance, Sept. 11-16, 1930.

It remains astonishing but true: Since May 26, with a 1.36 ERA, 0.78 WHIP and 12.5 strikeouts per nine innings, Kershaw is outperforming his 2014 NL Most Valuable Player and Cy Young Award numbers.

Kershaw chart through July 18

Here are Kershaw’s totals for July: three starts, 24 innings, 16 hits, two walks, 34 strikeouts, 0.42 ERA.

On July 3, the MLB leader in fielding-independent pitching and strikeouts walked New York Met outfielders Curtis Granderson and John Mayberry Jr. in the top of the first inning. Since then, he has struck out 34 batters without walking anyone.

His strikeout rate for the season is the highest since a couple of guys named Randy Johnson and Pedro Martinez were at the top of their game.

Paired with Zack Greinke’s 35 2/3 consecutive scoreless innings, Kershaw now has 20 consecutive scoreless innings of his own, putting him just about halfway to his 2014 streak of 41 consecutive shutout frames. (Greinke faces Washington ace Max Scherzer on Sunday.)

I’ve given up on the idea that the “What’s wrong with Kershaw?” questions will ever stop, because they will come every time he doesn’t do this. It’s maddening.


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  1. Second best pitching performance I have witnessed!

  2. oldbrooklynfan

    It was great, absolutely great but it’s hard not to wonder how he’ll do if the Dodgers get to the post season.

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