Clayton Kershaw took the mound Wednesday with the opportunity to become the first pitcher in the Majors to reach 16 wins this season.
However in order to accomplish that, he needed to win at Chase Field — a stadium he historically has not fared well in. Kershaw’s last start was a disastrous 1.2-inning effort in May during which the Arizona Diamondbacks scored seven earned runs.
Kershaw walked the first batter he faced on four pitches and faced early trouble, which contributed to his critical view of Wednesday’s outing, via the OC Register’s Bill Plunkett:
It was a bad start, really,” Kershaw said after the game, all evidence to the contrary. “I felt like they had runners on base all night. I was working in and out of jams. I was fortunate to get outs when I needed them. Then the fourth, fifth inning I managed to settle into a rhythm.”
The Diamondbacks tallied six hits against Kershaw, though only had one run to show for it. They loaded the bases with one out in the third inning against the Dodger ace and failed to push a run across.
While Kershaw escaped the third without allowing a run, the Diamondbacks became the first team since September of last season to load the bases on the reigning NL Cy Young award winner.
With the Dodgers leading 3-1, the Diamondbacks threatened again in the fifth with a leadoff triple from Ender Inciarte, only to be denied a run once more. After Inciarte’s triple, Kershaw retired 11 consecutive batters, including striking out the side in the seventh.
The 10 strikeouts Kershaw recorded Wednesday gave him a third consecutive game with at least that many for the second time in his career.
Forget quality starts. The bigger question in games Kershaw starts is whether he’ll throw eight or nine innings. Including Wednesday, he’s now gone at least eight innings in his last four starts and in eight of his last 10 trips to the mound.
With each passing start, Kershaw continues to add to his case for NL MVP in a year that appears to be the perfect storm to not only claim that award, but also a third NL Cy Young.
Dodgers History: MLB Facts About Clayton Kershaw’s No-Hitter