The Los Angeles Dodgers began a short two-game interleague series against the Tampa Bay Rays at Tropicana Field on Tuesday and were able to ride a stellar performance from starting pitcher Clayton Kershaw to earn a 7-3 victory.
Going into this game, the Dodgers had won each of Kershaw’s last 19 regular-season starts dating back to last season so they extended that streak to an even 20.
Despite the team being able to win all of his games, Kershaw hadn’t quite looked like his usual dominant self so far this season. He turned back the clock against the Rays though to deliver his best performance of the young season.
Overall in 6.1 innings of work, Kershaw allowed six hits and two runs while tying his season-high in strikeouts with eight. Both runs scored after he came out of the game in the seventh inning.
The Dodgers offense was able to get Kershaw some early run support, scoring singular runs in the first, third and fourth innings.
Max Muncy got the offense started in the top of the first when he laid down a perfect bunt to the third base side and got a hit out of it because the infield was shifted. He then quickly scored on a single off the bat of Justin Turner that got past Rays right fielder Avisail Garcia and rolled all the way to the wall.
David Friese then led off the third inning with a double to left. He was able to score on a pair of productive outs from the Dodgers when Muncy grounded out to the right side to move him over and then Turner drove him in with a sacrifice fly to center.
Austin Barnes got in on the action in the top of the fourth. He stepped to the plate with runners at second and third after singles by Corey Seager and Alex Verdugo and lined a single of his own up the middle to bring home the Dodgers’ third run of the night.
The scoring picked up in the seventh inning for the Dodgers. With runners on base and two outs, Kiké Hernandez, Seager and Joc Pederson all came up with clutch RBI-singles to extend the lead to 6-0.
Kershaw’s first jam of the night didn’t come until the seventh inning when he allowed a single and a double with one out, marking the end of his night. Pedro Baez was tasked with getting out of the jam but Willy Adames hit a line drive single off his knee.
Baez was in obvious pain after getting hit and wound up being removed from the game. Scott Alexander came in for him and allowed two straight hits to cut the Dodgers’ lead to 6-3.
The Dodgers bullpen was flawless from there, keeping the Rays off the scoreboard for the rest of the game. Verdugo made an incredible throw to gun out Kevin Kiermaier trying to stretch a double into a triple to begin the eighth inning to help make that happen.
Pederson added an extra run in the ninth inning on an RBI-double to cap off the 7-3 victory.