On April 1, 2013, the Los Angeles Dodgers faced off against the rival San Francisco Giants in an Opening Day matchup at Dodger Stadium. Ace Clayton Kershaw took the mound, putting on a performance of a lifetime, while single-handedly sparking the Dodgers to a 4-0 victory.
Heading into the bottom of the eighth inning, the Dodgers and Giants were locked in a scoreless tie. Up to that point, Kershaw had allowed just three hits and collected seven strikeouts. Matt Cain did his part, striking out eight through seven innings.
George Kontos took over for the Giants in the eighth and promptly surrendered a home run to Kershaw on a 92 mph fastball. The homer was the first — and remains the only — of Kershaw’s career.
He joined Bob Lemon (1953) as the only pitchers in MLB history to toss a shutout and hit a home run on Opening Day. Although most view the 2013 Opening Day matchup as a 1-0 victory for the Dodgers, they actually scored three more runs after Kershaw’s blast.
Carl Crawford followed with a double and Mark Ellis’ bunt single put two on with nobody out. The Giants then called on Santiago Casilla, who immediately allowed a run to score on a wild pitch. Casilla then walked Matt Kemp before giving way to Jeremy Affeldt.
He hit Adrian Gonzalez to load the bases, and the Dodgers went on to score two more runs on groundouts by Andre Ethier and A.J. Ellis.
Kershaw returned to the mound in the ninth and retired the side in order to put the finishing touches on a complete-game shutout.
That Opening Day start set the stage for the rest of the season, as Kershaw went on to win the second Cy Young Award of his career. He posted a 16-9 record with a 1.83 ERA, 2.39 FIP, 0.92 WHIP and 194 ERA+.
The 2013 season was also the start of the Dodgers’ streak of consecutive National League West titles.