The Los Angeles Dodgers cruised to a dominant 9-1 win against the Los Angeles Angels in the opener of the Freeway Series, complete with Clayton Kershaw again flirting with a first career perfect game.
It marked the second time this season that Kershaw pursued history. In his first start of the year, Kershaw threw seven perfect innings against the Minnesota Twins but was removed due to a high pitch count and not yet being fully built up.
Friday represented a much different story as Kershaw was efficient throughout what would have been just the second perfect game in Dodgers franchise history. Instead, Kershaw had to settle for becoming the first pitcher since the Expansion Era began in 1961 to twice have a perfect game through seven innings in the same season.
Kershaw largely breezed through six innings on just 59 pitches, and struck out Shohei Ohtani for a second time in the seventh.
His effort was aided along the way by Justin Turner making a terrific diving stop in the fourth inning, Hanser Alberto ranging to his right to snag a line drive in the fifth, and Trea Turner completing a sliding play in the seventh.
Kershaw’s bid for history was lost on Luis Rengifo’s leadoff double in the eighth, which wound up being his final inning. That was the lone hit Kershaw allowed and he lowered his season ERA to 2.13.
With the outing now behind him, Kershaw figures to be part of more discussions centered around who should start for the National League in the All-Star Game at Dodger Stadium.
Dodgers provide comfortable lead for Clayton Kershaw
Dodgers All-Stars Mookie Betts and Turner quickly did their part in setting the table with a walk and base hit in the first inning. Freddie Freeman kept the momentum going with an RBI single, and Justin Turner later drove in a run on his groundout.
The Dodgers then went quiet until Alberto’s two-run triple in the fifth inning. He was aided by Jo Adell having trouble in right field and coming up empty on an ill-advised leaping catch attempt.
After walks loaded the bases with one out in the sixth inning, Freeman’s sacrifice fly extended the Dodgers’ lead to 5-0 and began an onslaught. Smith followed with an RBI double and Turner kept the two-out rally going with a two-run single.
For Smith, it marked a seventh consecutive game with at least one RBI. Smith went on to triple in the eighth inning for his fourth hit of the night, and Turner drove him in with another RBI base hit.
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