By Jon Weisman
San Francisco hung on for a 9-6 victory over San Diego, and the Dodgers put the bubbly away for at least another day.
But after his seven shutout innings in their 14-1 victory tonight, they could break it out just to celebrate this little fact: Heading into the playoffs, Clayton Kershaw is on a roll.
When Kershaw returned from the disabled list at Miami on September 9, the Marlins scored a run in the first inning and a run in the second.
In 19 innings since, Kershaw hasn’t allowed an earned run. He has allowed eight hits — all singles. He has walked one. He has struck out 20.
“Physically, I feel really good,” Kershaw said. “A few things pitching-wise I need to get better at, but physically I feel good. Just a little bit inconsistent with some things at times.
“Hung some offspeed pitches … sliders that didn’t quite get where I wanted them to go, but overall, it was better tonight.”
Dave Roberts said Kershaw had his fastball command, and “the slider had the depth that I know he’s looking for — there were some really good ones tonight.”
And by throwing 91 pitches, Kershaw is in position to go triple-digits in the playoffs.
“I think there’s a guy you obviously never want to bet against,” Roberts said. “With the work he put in with the training staff and the strength and conditioning coach, just to get back where he is … mentally he’s as tough as I’ve ever seen, and physically he’s where he needs to be.”
For the season, Kershaw is now at 142 innings, which means he’s going to finish roughly 13-15 short of qualifying for league titles. That’s a shame, because his ERA is a sterling 1.65, his strikeout-walk ratio is 16.8, and he’s still clearly the best pitcher in baseball.