After getting destroyed on his previous start Clayton Kershaw was back in the form everyone is used to seeing him in, which means almost unhittable, as the Los Angeles Dodgers beat the Philadelphia Phillies 2-0 to open the three-game series in the city of brotherly love.
Kershaw gave up only two hits and struck out nine batters in six innings of work, also walking three. Brandon League came on for him and almost complicated things for the Dodgers by giving up a hit and a walk before being taken off, but the rest of the bullpen took care of business, as J.P. Howell, Brian Wilson and Kenley Jansen completed the job, with Janses picking up his 14th save of the season.
The game was on early on by the Dodgers – Yasiel Puig hit his 38th RBI of the season in the first inning to help Dee Gordon reach home plate and Carl Crawford his a 420-feet home run in the second inning to make it 2-0. It was Crawford’s 4th home run of the season.
Roberto Hernandez picked up the loss for the Phillies (2-2, 3.83 ERA), giving up seven hits in 6.1 innings and walking four to his three strikeouts while giving up those two runs. Not a bad performance from him, but when your lineup finished with only 3-for-30 at the plate, including 0-for-4 by Marlon Byrd, good pitching performances aren’t really going to be helping out a lot.
Kershaw was anxious about pitching again since the 18-7 loss to the Arizona Diamondbacks in the previous weekend. He is now 3-1 this season with a 3.49 ERA, but it’s more impressive to see his numbers against NL East teams. He has won 13 straight decisions against teams from that division, dating back to 2011. He has a 1.30 ERA in 17 starts in that span and has a 29 innings scoreless streak vs. the East.
Kershaw, who will become the highest paid player in baseball when next season begins, now tops a list of the most starts with six innings or more without giving up a run before the age of 27, doing it for the 39th time. He broke a tie with Bert Blyleven (38), slightly ahead of Felix Hernandez (33) and Dwight Gooden (32).
The Dodgers didn’t play Matt Kemp, with manager Don Mattingly worried about his defense. The Dodgers are only 26-23 despite their loaded roster which includes an incredible rotation, a supposed stocked bullpen and a lineup that most managers in the league would dream of. For all the talent he has hitting for him, something hasn’t been able to click on a consistent level, and it might be that adding a bit more defense to a group of ball crushers will help change the trajectory of this season.