Clayton Kershaw was sparkling Tuesday night, pitching a two-hit shutout to give the Dodgers their second consecutive win, 4-0 over the Tigers. Coming into tonight, the Tigers ranked eighth in MLB in runs per game (4.57), fourth in OPS+ (111), fourth in wOBA (.331), and fourth in wRC+ (107), but Kershaw purred along, striking out 11 and retiring the final 13 batters he faced, in what might have been the best outing of his career.
It was the second shutout for Kershaw in his last five starts, and third career shutout for the southpaw, all coming in his last 18 outings. Kershaw's 11 strikeouts gives him 117 punchouts on the season, surpassing Roy Halladay for the major league lead. It was the 11th double-digit strikeout game of Kershaw's career. According to Vin Scully on the KCAL broadcast, Kershaw induced 22 swings and misses tonight by Detroit.
Juan Uribe provided all the offense Kershaw would need with a solo home run in the first inning. It was the first home run since April 29 for Uribe, ending a personal span of 31 games and 120 plate appearances without a long ball. The Dodgers tacked on another run in the sixth inning with a pair of doubles, by James Loney and Dioner Navarro.
Kershaw helped himself in the bottom of the eighth inning, delivering a bases-loaded single that brought home two runs, pushing the lead to 4-0. The last Dodger to pitch a shutout and drive in at least two runs was Derek Lowe, who did so against the Padres on April 15, 2005.
- The Dodgers shutout back-to-back opponents for the first time since last July 25 and 27, when they beat the Mets and Padres 1-0 and 2-0, respectively. That ended a run of four shutouts in six games by the Dodgers.
- Matt Kemp was credited with a stolen base in the eighth inning on what really was a busted pickoff play, but nonetheless Kemp picked up steal number 18, putting him two shy of joining Davey Lopes as the only L.A. Dodgers to join the 20-20 club before the All-Star break. Lopes had 20 home runs and 21 steals in 91 games before the break in 1979, on his way to a season with 28 homers and 44 steals.
- Kershaw walked to lead off the third inning, the 12th walk by a Dodger pitcher this season. They lead all of baseball in that category, and have at least four more walks than every other team.
- Jonathan Broxton, who has been on the disabled list since May 6 with a bone bruise in his right elbow, will begin a rehab assignment with Triple A Albuquerque on Tuesday.
- For a recap of today's decision by commissioner Bud Selig to reject the Dodgers' proposed television deal with Fox, you can read Bill Shaikin and David Wharton at the Los Angeles Times, Josh Fisher and Molly Knight at ESPN, Tim Brown at Yahoo! Sports, and Maury Brown at The Biz of Baseball.
Chad Billingsley faces Max Scherzer in the second game of the series on Tuesday night.
WP - Clayton Kershaw (7-3): 9 IP, 2 hits, 1 walk, 11 strikeouts
LP - Brad Penny (5-6): 6 IP, 7 hits, 2 runs, 3 walks, 4 strikeouts