Clayton Kershaw surrendered a season-high three home runs but was backed by a prolific offense and earned the win as the Los Angeles Dodgers cruised to a 16-3 drubbing of the Toronto Blue Jays in the opener of a three-game series at Dodger Stadium.
Despite facing traffic throughout the night, Kershaw went six innings, extending his streak of doing so in all 22 starts this season. However, Tuesday’s game was noteworthy for a much broader scope.
Kershaw now has 166 career wins, which moved him past Sandy Koufax for fifth all-time in Dodgers franchise history. No left-hander who has pitched for Brooklyn or L.A. has more than Kershaw.
“It’s special, for sure. I think with what Sandy means to this organization, what Sandy means to me personally, it’s an incredible thing,” he said.
“Something I never thought was going to happen. Obviously not the most important thing in the world but something that helps me look back on when it’s all said and done. It’s an honor, for me, to be mentioned in the same sentence as Sandy.
“I’ve always said it’s a special thing. What he was able to accomplish in his career, and would have gone a lot longer if he was playing today because he could have gotten healthy. Just a special thing.”
Earlier this season Kershaw passed Koufax for third on the Dodgers’ all-time strikeouts list.
Kershaw has long been compared to iconic lefty throughout his career, and the two southpaws have developed a friendship that extends well beyond the field. However, Kershaw remains incapable — or unwilling — of reflecting on his personal accomplishments and their intertwined history.
“It’s just hard for me to take big-picture perspective on things. Some day I hope to do that. Thankful that I’ve even had an opportunity to do some of this stuff and I try not to lose sight of that,” he explained.
“I think somewhere in my brain I can’t continue to do that and be successful every fifth day. I think you probably will think you’re better than you are. Just got to keep going. Maybe someday I’ll look back on it and think it’s pretty awesome.”
Part of not taking a moment to pause at present time is the drive to October. “All the historical stuff and everything, is something for me to look back on when I retire,” Kershaw said.
“Right now, we’ve got a singular goal in here and that’s to be the last team standing. Every win is just practice to get better for that. I’m not too focused on that, but try not to take it for granted, either, because it is a special thing.”
Although the 31-year-old was hardly satisfied with his performance, making franchise history impressed Cody Bellinger. “That’s pretty insane,” the National League MVP candidate said when informed of Kershaw’s accomplishment.
“Didn’t know that, so that’s really cool. Congratulations to him. He’s a freak himself.”