For as much as the Los Angeles Dodgers have relied on Clayton Kershaw since 2011, their dependence on the left-handed ace this season has reached a new level. The unattainable has become expected of Kershaw. And he’s delivered each time.
With the Dodgers coming off a 17-inning game that taxed the bullpen, Kershaw once again put the team on his left arm. He threw his third complete-game shutout this season — all coming during the month of May — and held the Cincinnati Reds to just two hits.
Cincinnati did manage some success, as they snapped Kershaw’s streak of consecutive outings with at least 10 strikeouts at six starts. “My command wasn’t great tonight,” Kershaw said. “When you fall behind people you’re not going to get strikeouts.”
He went on to praise the Reds for their strategy of attacking his fastball early in the count. “They hit some balls hard, fortunately they were on the ground,” Kershaw said. One of the Reds’ hits was a Zack Cozart leadoff double in the first inning.
A bunt advanced him to third base with one out. Kershaw fell behind in the count 3-0 to Joey Votto, but the slugger to line out on a full count. Brandon Phillips rolled a grounder over to third, and the Reds’ threat was over. Cincinnati never had a runner reach second base the rest of the night.
Some of that can be attributed to Kershaw finding his feel with the fastball as the game wore on. “I started throwing it for strikes a little more,” he said. While Kershaw may not have matched the prolific number of punchouts from starts prior, he efficiently worked his way through the Reds lineup.
Entering the ninth inning, Kershaw had thrown just 88 pitches; he needed 14 more to record the game’s final three outs. Next for the three-time Cy Young Award winner is a start against the New York Mets, with an opportunity to put a cap on a historic month.
That’s tentatively scheduled for Sunday, though Kershaw could take the mound one night earlier on normal rest given the Dodgers’ off-day on Thursday. No matter how it unfolds, Kershaw will take the mound at Citi Field 5-0 with a 0.64 ERA in five May starts.
That dominance, however, isn’t enough to reflect on for Kershaw “I’m not a big assessment guy. I’ll celebrate [Monday] and enjoy the win, and then get ready for the Mets,” he said. “It’s tough to assess during the season.”