Clayton Kershaw took the mound Tuesday for his 10th start of the season and still facing questions as to what’s gone awry this season. He began the game 2-3 with a 4.32 ERA, though his FIP and xFIP suggested better days were ahead.
Such was the case Tuesday as Kershaw held the Atlanta Braves scoreless over seven innings in what was his best start of the season. The reigning National League MVP had a no-hitter through four innings and finished with 10 strikeouts, which moved him into a tie with Cleveland Indians ace Corey Kluber atop the Majors with 83 strikeouts.
Tuesday was the first time Kershaw has pitched at least seven innings in consecutive starts this season. He also noticed improvement than his previous outing against the San Francisco Giants. “For me personally, the curveball was a lot better than it was in San Francisco,” Kershaw said. “The slider was hit or miss at times. Overall, it [the outing] was better.”
The Dodgers erupted for six runs in the fourth inning and added two more in the fifth. The run support was certainly welcomed by Kershaw but he added, “you never want to relax” when asked if he was more comfortable pitching with a large lead.
Although the results were improved for Kershaw, manager Don Mattingly believes his ace’s performance was in line with previous starts. “It’s been a lot of the same,” Mattingly said. “Tonight he got the zeros and got out of an inning to keep a guy from scoring. But the stuff has been similar every time out.
“I feel like I’ve had to defend him when he doesn’t need any defending. He’s thrown the ball well and tonight he got better results as far as runs on the board, and we got him some runs.” Facing Atlanta, a team Kershaw has pitched well against over his career, may have come at the right time for the left-hander, who appears to be in the midst of recapturing some of his 2014 form.
Next up for the Kershaw is another start at Coors Field that will come in much better weather than the last time he took the mound there. The May 10 outing came hours after the Colorado Rockies grounds crew worked tirelessly to clear overnight snow that fell.