For the first time in his career Clayton Kershaw took the mound stuck in a three-game losing streak. While the reigning National League MVP didn’t suffer another loss Friday, the Los Angeles Dodgers did, despite another quality start from their ace.
Kershaw held the New York Mets to just one run on five hits, and had seven strikeouts over seven innings. He was again hurt by the Dodgers’ inability to generate run support, this time against Noah Syndergaard. The rookie right-hander allowed a second-inning solo home run to Adrian Gonzalez, then proceeded to blank the Dodgers, finishing with six innings pitched and allowing just two hits.
“He was really good,” Kershaw said of Syndergaard. “Really impressed. We all know big prospects come up, they’re going to have the stuff, but he commanded the ball really well on both sides of the plate, threw breaking balls high in counts, things like that. Even threw some changeups in there. Just another Texas kid. What do you expect?”
As for his own performance, Kershaw wasn’t pleased with walking two batters in the first inning. “It took a little bit to settle in,” he said. “I was pretty erratic early. I was able to get out of that and started feeling better towards the middle innings.”
Kershaw is without a win since June 6 when he threw eight innings of shutout ball against the St. Louis Cardinals. It was a third consecutive win for the left-hander and part of a stretch of eight-starts where Kershaw has reflected his 2014 form.
Dating back to May 26, Kershaw has a 1.78 ERA, 0.83 WHIP and 74 strikeouts, good for an 11.96 strikeout-per-nine-innings ratio. Moreover, opponents hit .177/.224/.283 over that span. All Kershaw has to show for it is a 5-6 record, 3.08 ERA and 1.04 WHIP. He does lead all pitchers with 147 strikeouts entering Saturday.
Beyond the traditional stats, Kershaw’s 2.13 xFIP leads the Majors. His 2.55 FIP ranks fifth overall and second in the National League. While Friday was the third consecutive start in which Kershaw tossed seven innings, a minimum he’s reached in seven of his last nine outings, he placed a responsibility on himself to pitch deeper into games.
“I’d like to go eight or nine,” Kershaw said. “But it’s better than six, I guess. Seven is kind of the low benchmark for me. I think eight is really what you need to shoot for as a starter. It just makes everything work better and gives your bullpen for the most part the night off. It’s what I’m supposed to be doing anyway.”
While Kershaw has worked to get back into the elusive win column, the Dodgers have managed to do enough through the first 81 games of the season to sit in first place of the National League West division. “We’re doing OK,” Kershaw said. “I think there’s a lot more in there for us to play better. We’re in first at the halfway point, so there’s a lot to be said for that.”