Coming off hip soreness that resulted in two scratched starts over a three-day span and thus going eight days between starts, Clayton Kershaw had to work off some rust on Saturday, the second game of the Freeway Series between the Los Angeles Dodgers and Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim.
“He seemed a little bit rusty, early, honestly command-wise,” Dodgers manager Don Mattingly said of his ace. “It’s been like eight days since he pitched, but it seemed like he was getting better as the game went on.” Kershaw assessed himself as not being “quite as sharp,” but also added, “I think my fastball got a little better as the game went on.”
On top of needing to find some rhythm after last starting July 23, Kershaw credited the Angels for making him labor. “The Angels were doing a good job laying off a lot of pitches down in the zone,” he said. “They had a really good game plan and stuck with it. I was fortunate to go eight innings.”
Kershaw’s eight shutout frames extended his scoreless streak to 37 consecutive innings. This after he tossed 41 scoreless innings last season, a streak that was snapped on a sixth-inning Chase Headley home run that just cleared the Dodger Stadium fence in left-center field on July 10.
Saturday’s game pitted reigning MVPs against one another for the first time in Major League Baseball history and it finished as a one-sided affair. Mike Trout went 0-for-3 against Kershaw, striking out on a knee-buckling breaking ball in the first inning, grounding into a fielder’s choice in the fourth, and getting robbed of a hit by a diving Yasiel Puig in the seventh.
Although a talking point among media and the fan bases, Kershaw refused to engage in the hoopla surrounding the matchup. “Great hitter,” he said of Trout. “Probably the best hitter in the game. Just trying to get him out. … I don’t think it’s fun facing anybody. But, if you get him out, it’s fun.”
Kershaw carried a similar sentiment last season, refusing to specifically address facing Trout last August. That night Trout went 2-for-3 against Kershaw with an infield single, double and strikeout.