Clayton Kershaw takes the mound for the Dodgers on Friday night against the Rockies looking to win his seventh straight start. Even though he missed five weeks on the disabled list earlier in the season, he has a chance for 10 wins before the All-Star break for the first time in his career.
He also takes a 28-inning scoreless streak into Friday's game. Coors Field, run-scoring haven that it is, will be his biggest test during the streak, though one year and two days ago Kershaw did throw the 21st shutout in Coors Field history.
Kershaw's scoreless streak is the 11th longest in Los Angeles Dodgers history, but outside of the big two of Orel Hershiser's 59 innings in 1988 and Don Drysdale's 58 innings in 1968, Kershaw could conceivably pass the other eight streaks on Friday night. Here are the streaks in play for Kershaw tonight:
35 - Don Sutton (1972)
Sutton was a consistent force for a decade and a half with the Dodgers but at age 27 had arguably the finest season of his career. He was 19-9 with a 2.08 ERA, a 162 ERA+ and led the National League with a 0.919 WHIP. His streak began on Sept. 10 in a no-decision against the Astros, when Sutton allowed two unearned runs in seven innings. The final four innings were scoreless, and followed by three straight shutouts, the highlight of which was the middle shutout, an 11-inning game against the Giants on Sept. 22 which saw Sutton strikeout 11 and pitch a complete game in a game won on a bases-loaded hit by pitch of Wes Parker. Sutton's final start of the season was Oct. 3 in Atlanta, and he didn't allow a run until the third inning.
35 - Fernando Valenzuela (1981)
To illustrate how great El Toro was when he burst onto the scene, this is the second of two streaks in the top seven just from his first 16 major league games. Valenzuela allowed a run in his second big league start, on April 14 in San Francisco in the eighth inning, but he pitched a scoreless ninth to finish the complete game and begin another streak. Valenzuela struck out 10 in a shutout in San Diego on April 18, then struck out 11 in another shutout in Houston on April 22. He returned home for a shutout of the Giants on April 27, his fourth shutout in five starts in his rookie year to lower his ERA to 0.20. On May 3 in Montreal, Valenzuela nearly threw another shutout but allowed a run in the eighth inning.
Valenzuela pitched another shutout in his next start, so in his first seven major league starts he had seven complete games, five shutouts, and two other games in which he allowed one run, and not until the eighth inning in both games. Amazing. In his eighth start, Valenzuela had the audacity to allow two runs, but won another complete game.
33⅔ - Orel Hershiser (1984)
Four years before he would set a major league record, Hershiser had another long scoreless streak, and the only one of this group that includes a blown save. This streak starts with Hershiser's third major league start, on June 29 against the Cubs. He allowed one run in a complete-game win, with the final two innings scoreless. Hershiser followed that up with a July 4 shutout against Pittsburgh. Four days later, Hershiser pitched in relief on the final day before the All-Star break. He pitched 1⅔ scoreless innings but allowed an inherited runner to score for a blown save. After the break, Hershiser pitched road shutouts on July 14 in Chicago and July 19 in St. Louis. He took a loss on July 24 at home against Atlanta, but began the game with three scoreless innings to extend the streak.
33 - Sandy Koufax (1963)
Koufax began his streak with a shutout on July 3 to beat Bob Gibson and the Cardinals, then followed it with another on July 7 against the Reds. After a pair of three-hit shutouts, Koufax threw another three-hit shutout, this time on the road against the Mets on July 12, this one with 13 strikeouts. The left-hander followed his three shutouts with a complete game in Philadelphia on July 16, but he allowed a run in the seventh inning.
33 - Chan Ho Park (2000-01)
The right-hander ended his 2000 season on fire, with three straight scoreless starts and 34 strikeouts. He pitched eight scoreless innings on Sept. 19 against Arizona and Sept. 24 against San Diego, both 1-0 wins. He struck out 13 in San Diego on Sept. 29 in a shutout in his final start of the year. Park began 2001 with seven scoreless innings in another 1-0 win, this one against Milwaukee, then started his next start with one scoreless frame.
31⅔ - Bob Miller (1964)
Miller is the only reliever on this list, with 15 scoreless appearances from May 23 to June 25. He then recorded four outs in his next relief appearance before allowing a run in the next inning he started.
31⅔ - Fernando Valenzuela (1980-81)
Before Valenzuela became a mania in 1981, he was a relief ace in September 1980. He allowed two unearned runs in his major league debut, then pitched nine scoreless appearances to end the season, totaling 15⅔ innings. Then Valenzuela opened 1981 with a surprise Opening Day start and shutout of the Astros, followed by the seven scoreless innings to begin that April 14 start in San Francisco. In 1988, Major League Baseball decreed that there could only be full scoreless innings, so Drysdale's streak was shortened from 58⅔ to 58 innings, Valenzuela's became 31 innings, and Hershiser's became 33.
Again, a reminder: Valenzuela's first 16 major league games he produced two of the top seven scoreless inning streaks in Los Angeles Dodgers history, and after his first 17 games he had a career ERA of 0.22.
29⅔ - Don Sutton (1972)
Sutton's first long streak of 1972 began with 2⅔ scoreless innings to end his 7⅔-inning start on April 25 against the Expos. Then he pitched a shutout against the Mets, 10 scoreless innings in a no-decision in Montreal, followed by eight scoreless innings to start a 6-1 complete game win in Philadelphia.
Time: 5:10 p.m. PT
TV: SportsNet LA