Clayton Kershaw was hardly at his best Thursday night but he minimized damage and that helped the Los Angeles Dodgers complete an 8-2 comeback win against the San Diego Padres, thanks in large part to Will Smith delivering a grand slam.
Although Kershaw issued a season-high five walks, he made franchise history by surpassing Sandy Koufax in career strikeouts. When Kershaw got Austin Hedges swinging on a patented slider in the sixth inning, it gave him 2,397 strikeouts and sole possession of third place on the Dodgers all-time list.
Kershaw fittingly tied Koufax by freezing Hunter Renfroe with a curveball to end the fifth inning. Renfroe’s solo home run in the second gave the Padres an early lead.
Upon overtaking Koufax for third all-time in franchise history, the Dodger Stadium video board showed a message to announce the accomplishment. Kershaw received a loud applause and standing ovation from some sections.
“It was really cool. I heard the crowd but I was a little frustrated with myself at the time,” he said. “I have the ball, so it was really cool.
“I don’t know what to say other than it’s a special thing any time you get mentioned in the same breath as Sandy. He wouldn’t be proud of this one tonight but I’ll try to get better in the next one.”
Only Don Sutton (2,696) and Don Drysdale (2,486) rank ahead of Kershaw in Dodgers franchise history. He may be hard-pressed to catch Drysdale this season, but figures to do so — and potentially pass Sutton — at some point during the 2020 season.
For now, again being linked to Koufax was all the more memorable for Kershaw considering the two have long developed a strong relationship that extends well beyond the public eye. “He’s been great. I have so much respect for him, I think everybody in this clubhouse does,” Kershaw said.
“The way he carries himself, the way he hangs out. There’s so much to say. I have a great admiration for him. Sandy is great. I don’t like to talk about all the personal stuff and he doesn’t either, but he’s great. He really is. He’s unbelievable.
“I hope we can do him right.”