Before he led the Los Angeles Dodgers to six straight division titles, Clayton Kershaw had already established himself as a force to be reckoned with.
On April 17, 2013, Kershaw became the second-fastest pitcher in Dodgers franchise history to reach 1,000 career strikeouts. He did so by punching out San Diego Padres first baseman Yonder Alonso on a 93 mph fastball high and away.
The milestone took place in the second inning of that night’s game and during the 970th inning of Kershaw’s career. Hideo Nomo is the only Dodgers pitcher to ever reach 1,000 strikeouts faster than Kershaw did. Nomo only needed 954 innings to get his 1,000th career strikeout.
In 2017, Kershaw became the third-fastest pitcher in Major League history to record 2,000 strikeouts, reaching the mark in his 1,837th inning. Only Pedro Martinez, in 1,715 innings, and Randy Johnson, in 1,734 innings, hit the milestone faster than Kershaw did.
Unfortunately for Kershaw, he reached 1,000 career strikeouts in a 7-2 loss. The Padres earned their first sweep at Dodger Stadium of three or more games since July 2006.
Kershaw surrendered his first three home runs of the season and only pitched 5.1 innings. He allowed five runs (three earned) on seven hits and four walks, and finished with five strikeouts.
Although it was hardly a vintage performance, the left-hander would go on to win the Cy Young Award during the 2013 season, his second in three years. The Dodgers additionally returned to the postseason in 2013 by beginning a streak of what’s now seven consecutive National League West titles.
On a personal level, Kershaw won another Cy Young Award in 2014, when he was also named NL MVP. Kershaw then finished within the top five of Cy Young voting in each of the following three seasons before injuries halted that streak in 2018.
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