Although his personality would never allow for it to happen willingly, Clayton Kershaw took a Tuesday night at Dodger Stadium against the National League’s best team and made it about himself.
The Washington Nationals pounded the Dodgers with the long ball in their win Monday and were looking to build on their NL-best 78-58 record. Instead, they failed to catch up to Kershaw’s fastball, time his breaking ball and walked away defeated.
Kershaw struck out eight, allowed one run on three hits in eight innings, and had he not battled control issues early on, likely would’ve added another complete game to his name this season.
For good measure, Kershaw also started a rally in the fifth inning with his leadoff single and baserunning that took him from first to third on Dee Gordon’s single to center field. Following his MLB-best 17th win this season, Kershaw said his goal is to be consistent, according to the OC Register’s Bill Plunkett:
You just want to be consistent. It’s a cliché but you want to give your team a chance. You’re only playing once every five days (as a starting pitcher), you want to contribute.”
In the process of picking up his 17th win, Kershaw lowered his ERA to 1.70, which also leads the Majors. His 0.83 WHIP is tops in MLB and his status as the best pitcher in baseball becomes less questionable with each passing start.
Since returning from the disabled list, Kershaw has been nothing short of consistent and reliable for the Dodgers. Tuesday was his fifth consecutive start with at least eight innings pitched and 15th straight where the southpaw has gone seven innings or more.
The streak dates to June 8, when Kershaw was limited to five innings in a rain-shortened complete game. Take that off the table and the last time the southpaw failed to pitch a minimum of seven innings was May 23.
Dating back to June 2, Kershaw is 14-1 in his last 16 starts. The stretch includes a no-hitter and an 11-game winning streak that came to an end in a complete-game loss to the Milwaukee Brewers where he allowed three runs on five hits.
Kershaw has proven time and time again he’s more than capable of answering the bell for the Dodgers. The personal accolades will be there come season’s end, but Kershaw has his eyes on a bigger prize.
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