Originally scheduled to start Friday’s series opener against the Washington Nationals, Clayton Kershaw instead had his first start out of the All-Star break pushed back. Suffice to say, the Los Angeles Dodgers’ decision to give their ace an extra day of rest appeared a wise one.
Kershaw took the mound in a regular season game for the first time in 10 days without any signs of rust or slowing down from where he left off. He came out of the gate strong, striking out two batters in the first inning, including National League MVP candidate Bryce Harper.
It was a precursor of what was to come as the reigning NL MVP and three-time Cy Young Award winner struck out two batters in each of the first seven innings. The Nationals managed to make better contact in the eighth, but the side was retired on groundball outs.
Kershaw set a season high with the 14 strikeouts, and finished one shy of tying his career best — set last year as part of the no-hitter against the Colorado Rockies. Kershaw’s performance Saturday led to Harper, who struck out three times, calling him the best pitcher in all of baseball.