Remember when Clayton Kershaw was struggling, was being questioned on what was wrong and when he needed an injury to make the All-Star team?
Because all of that has just about been erased, cemented by Wednesday night’s start against the San Francisco Giants when he threw a complete game with 15 strikeouts to complete a three-game sweep and push the division lead to 6.5 games.
Kershaw struck out every Giants starter at least once, tied his career-high in pitches (132) and strikeouts, as well as setting a new personal best in strikeouts in a season (251) with a month left to play. The left-hander has 29 strikeouts in his last two starts and has lowered his ERA to 2.18 this year.
In the ninth inning, Kershaw got the first two outs of the inning, but gave up consecutive hits to bring manager Don Mattingly out of the dugout. The Dodgers ace said he believed it was “50/50″ on whether his manager brought the hook, but Mattingly asked if he was ok and Kershaw told him he was fine. He then proceeded to strike out Marlon Byrd to end the game.
After the game, Kershaw assured the media that these games were important and gave his take on what they mean. “Good wins,” he said. “Proves that we can beat them.”
The Dodgers had lost nine of 12 against the Giants this season, including 0-6 at AT&T Park. They still have a four-game series left on the road against their rivals and the 27-year-old believes those games will be key.
“I expect those last four games up in San Fran to matter,” Kershaw said.
Kershaw also said the Dodgers can’t get too excited with the sweep. “We’re a good team,” the left-hander remarked. “We’re starting to play like that day in and day out, which is huge. We can’t relax now.”
They head to San Diego to take on the Padres and the reigning MVP wants his team to keep things rolling. “We got to really keep our foot on the gas pedal going down there and make sure we don’t have a letdown,” Kershaw said.
Also, the All-Star pitcher talked a bit about setting a new career-high in strikeouts in a season, but it may not be what you expect from a pitcher who just eclipsed 250 strikeouts. “Out are outs,” he humbly said. “I’ll take them however I can get them.”
The Dodgers will also take the outs as they come, especially if they continue to be accompanied by victories.