After last throwing a career-high-tying 132 pitches tying a career high with 15 strikeouts, Clayton Kershaw was back on the mound with an extra day of rest under his belt to face the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim the second time this season.
Kershaw was dominant in the Aug. 1 outing, striking out seven and scattering two hits over eight shutout innings in a Los Angeles Dodgers win. His performance led to Angels rookie Andrew Heaney using an expletive to describe his chances in the batter’s box against Kershaw.
Tuesday night was much of the same from Kershaw, with the Angels faring only marginally better. Cole Kalhoun’s solo home run to lead off the bottom of the first tied the game, and was a bit of a milestone as he became the only player this season to homer off Kershaw and Zack Greinke.
However, all Kershaw did was go on to retire 12 of the next 13 batters, helping preserve the Dodgers’ 2-1 lead at the time. Kershaw later said it was the best pure game played by the Dodgers this season, via Time Warner Cable’s SportsNet LA:
It seemed like this was probably the best pure baseball game I feel like we’ve played. Just as far as doing the little things, moving guys over, sac flies, situational hitting, things like that. It seemed like it was so easy to score runs tonight, and not necessarily just the big hits. Just moving guys over, doing little things like that. That was awesome to see.”
Justin Ruggiano got the Dodgers on the board with a leadoff home run in the first and later hit a ground-rule double that moved Alex Guerrero into scoring position in the third; Guerrero then scored on a Heaney wild pitch. More hits came in the sixth, along with a productive out and sacrifice fly, with the end result being a four-run inning for the Dodgers.
Corey Seager did commit two fielding errors in the seventh, though it only amounted to one run for the Angels — coming across on a Kershaw balk. The reigning National League MVP improved to 13-6 on the season and lowered his ERA to 2.15, which ranks third in the Majors.
Kershaw has been particularly dominant out of the All-Star break, going 7-0 with a 1.04 ERA and 137 strikeouts to just 13 walks over 10 starts. Along with Greinke, Kershaw has been a driving force behind the Dodgers winning 13 of their last 15 games and entering play Wednesday with an 8.5-game lead over the San Francisco Giants.