Clayton Kershaw took the mound Sunday boasting a 9-1 record with a 2.14 ERA in his last 10 starts against the Colorado Rockies, and 4-0 with a 2.00 ERA in his last four outings at Coors Field.
The reigning National League MVP struck out two of the three batters he faced in a scoreless first inning and collected his 1,500th career strikeout and fourth of the game, in the third inning. Kershaw was perfect through 2.1 innings before Rafael Ynoa’s infield single ended early thoughts of history potentially being made.
Then in the fourth behind one soft-hit ball after another and a suddenly tight strike zone, the Rockies hung five runs on Kershaw to take a 5-2 lead; it was Kershaw’s first five-run inning since he managed to go just 1.2 innings against the Arizona Diamondbacks at Chase Field last May.
Dodgers manager Don Mattingly and A.J. Ellis both downplayed Kershaw’s ongoing slow start to the season, but the pitcher wasn’t quite as forgiving during his postgame interview, via Time Warner Cable’s SportsNet LA:
It’s kind of tough to analyze I guess. You just see five runs on the board, so it’s obviously not a good start. The slider wasn’t great and it was just a tough day.”
As for the notion of 2015 possibly being a season in which Kershaw has been on the wrong end of luck, he shot the idea down:
I don’t really believe in luck. You either pitch good or you don’t. There were hard-hit balls right at guys too. It evens out, it’s baseball. Broken-bat hits or ground-ball hits even out with the line-drive hits over time. It was just a tough day.”
Kershaw also criticized himself for not playing up to the same standards as the rest of his teammates:
I’m definitely not up to par for what I expect and what this team expects. Fortunately [Zack] Greinke is pitching great and Brett [Anderson] has pitched good his last two times out, [Carlos] Frias has pitched really well. I need to start getting on pace with those guys.”
Greinke (5-0, 1.56 ERA) takes the mound Monday looking to remain perfect through seven starts; the Dodgers are 5-1 in his previous six outings and Greinke allowed just one run over six innings in the lone loss — game in which the bullpen collectively gave up six runs.
At times pitching with a lineup that’s without regular starters this season, Kershaw is now 1-2 with a 4.26 ERA and 1.26 WHIP. He leads the Majors with 56 strikeouts, and has a 2.91 FIP and the second-lowest xFIP of his career at 2.18.
The Dodgers have managed to withstand their ace’s slow start and enter play Monday with a 20-10 record, which is good for first place in the NL West, and second in the NL and overall.
Brandon McCarthy Discusses UCL Injury