In his first appearance since pitching a very near perfect no-hitter, reigning Cy Young Award winner Clayton Kershaw of the Los Angeles Dodgers threw eight more innings in which no runs were scored against him. He completely baffled the Kansas City Royals batters holding them to six hits, all of which were singles.
Kershaw was nowhere near perfect but he still looked like the Cy Young caliber pitcher he’s known to be. He struck out eight batters just days after striking out 15 in his no-hitter. Six of his strike outs were on swing and miss sliders. Royals manager Ned Yost told MLB.com’s Ken Gurnick,
“It’s the best slider we’ve seen all year long. I mean, that thing had teeth, it was biting.”
Now Kershaw has a string of 21 straight shutout innings. He could have been the first Dodger to throw back to back shutouts since Hideo Nomo in 1995 and he was the first Dodger to throw eight shutout innings after a no-hitter since Tommy Green in 1991. Kenley Jansen took over for Kershaw in the ninth after Kershaw had thrown 108 pitches, he threw 107 in his no-hitter.
The Dodgers won the game 2-0 and Kershaw reportedly said that the game was “more stressful” than his no-hitter. Catcher A.J. Ellis talked of Kershaw’s extreme dedication to the game and how it contributes to the greatness he shows on the field,
“He was the first guy on the field in San Diego, getting ready for this start. That’s what makes him different and special. His dedication to the routine and unwavering desire to win. It will keep him separate for a long time.
“I tried to keep up with him in the past. Now just watching him and I get tired. Tomorrow he’ll start preparing for Sunday and St. Louis. It’s a grind, 162 games. As humans and athletes, we get lazy and selfish and stupid. He never does that. It’s paid dividends, so why risk changing it? The last thing he wants to say is, what if?”
Kershaw is most certainly a workhorse and it will be interesting to see how many innings his scoreless streak can go. The longest streak of scoreless innings in baseball history belongs to Orel Hershiser who threw 59 between August 30, 1988 and September 28, 1988. Given Kershaw’s work ethic, his ability to rack up strikeouts with his slider and tendency to work deep into games there is no telling how long his streak of scoreless innings could go. It could end in the first inning of his next start or perhaps he will write himself into the history books. We’ll all just have to wait and see.
Kershaw improved his record to 8-2 on the year and lowered his ERA to 2.24 over his last two stellar starts.