The Los Angeles Dodgers continued to hit the ball out of Marlins Park, as Justin Turner and Corey Seager each hit a home run in the first inning, but it was Clayton Kershaw who quickly stole the show.
Spotted a 3-0 lead before throwing a single pitch, Kershaw struck out the side on 16 pitches in the first inning. After the Dodgers stranded Edwin Rios’ leadoff single in the second, Kershaw returned to the mound and again struck out the side.
Each of his first six strikeouts were of the swinging variety. That continued in the third as he got Jorge Alfaro to whiff on a slider. That put Kershaw on the brink of tying MLB history for most strikeouts to begin a start.
However, his streak came to an end when Lewis Brinson grounded out to shortstop two pitches after nearly fouling out down the left-field line. Matt Beaty gave chase and nearly made the play but had the ball pop out of his glove upon colliding with the wall.
Brinson swung and miss on Kershaw’s patented slider for strike two before putting the third pitch of the at-bat in play. Had Kershaw managed to keep his streak alive, he next faced opposing starter Elieser Hernandez, who struck out.
Thus, Jim Deshaies (1986), Jacob deGrom (2014) and German Marquez (2018) remained tied for the MLB record with eight straight strikeouts to start a game. Although his bid for history was broken up, Kershaw had eight strikeouts through three perfect innings.
He went into Wednesday’s start pitching on seven days’ rest after the Dodgers made a decision to swap him in the order with Dustin May. Manager Dave Roberts explained the club viewed the change as nothing but positive for themselves and the three-time Cy Young Award winner.
With a win, Kershaw will tie Sandy Koufax for fifth all-time in Dodgers franchise history at 165, and give him at least 12 victories in a single season a ninth time in the past 10 years.
Earlier this season, Kershaw passed Koufax for third on the Dodgers’ all-time strikeouts list. “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 said at the time.