Clayton Kershaw rebounded from one of the worst starts of his career with what looked to be one of his best, especially given the conditions. Though interrupted by rain, he was mowing down the Phillies with ease in a 2-0 Dodgers win on Friday night at Citizens Bank Park in Philadelphia.
During the pregame show on SportsNet LA, broadcaster Orel Hershiser said he expected Kershaw, who allowed seven runs while recording only five outs on Saturday in Arizona, to rebound in a big way in Philadelphia, and that the left-hander "would go through the Phillies lineup like a hot knife through butter."
One time through, that's exactly what Kershaw did.
Kershaw threw 44 pitches in his three innings, including 28 for strikes. He allowed just one runner to reach base, a walk to left fielder Darin Ruf in the second inning. Kershaw retired nine of his first 10 batters faced, including three by strikeout. He didn't strikeout Chase Utley in the first inning, but Kershaw did make the second baseman flinch with this 0-1 curveball:
GIF per Dodgers
In an incredible piece of foreshadowing by Jon Weisman at Dodgers Insider earlier on Friday, he examined all 192 previous starts by Kershaw, including the postseason, and found that 22 previous times Kershaw made it through at least three innings without allowing a hit.
But then the rains came, halting play for 43 minutes.
Kershaw was at-bat with a 1-1 count with runners on first and second base and two outs in the top of the fourth inning when third base umpire and crew chief Fieldin Culbreth ordered play to be stopped. The Dodgers led 2-0.
When play resumed, Kershaw batted for himself and grounded out to end the inning.
Once back on the mound, Kershaw immediately allowed a walk to Dodger tormentor Carlos Ruiz then a double to Utley that not only broke up the no-hitter but put the tying runs in scoring position with nobody out. But then Kershaw wielded that hot knife through the heart of the Phillies batting order, striking out Marlon Byrd, Ryan Howard and Ruf, strangely all on pitches in the dirt that required a throw to first base.
Not even the king of minutiae Jayson Stark had seen anything like it.
Never! RT @jonweisman: Let's ask @jaysonst if he's ever heard of three K2-3s in a half inning before tonight— Jayson Stark (@jaysonst) May 24, 2014
Kershaw ran into trouble again in the sixth inning with a leadoff double by Jimmy Rollins, followed by another walk to Ruiz. This spurred a mound visit from pitching coach Rick Honeycutt, much to the surprise of a vociferous Kershaw. But after the pleasantries were exchanged near the rubber, Kershaw threw six straight strikes to get out of the inning, culminated by getting Howard looking.
Through the conditions and the delay, Kershaw lasted six innings without allowing a run. He threw 100 pitches and allowed two hits and three walks, and struck out nine for the third time in his last four starts.
The Dodgers scored early, with Dee Gordon leading off the game with a single, then stealing second and third base, his first stolen bases in nine days. He scored on a single by Yasiel Puig, who reached base five times with three hits and two walks.
Carl Crawford added a solo home run in the second inning, his fourth of the month. Crawford was 2-for-4 on the night and is hitting .415/.436/.660 in his last 16 games.
After Kershaw left, the Phillies were prepared to pounce on the shaky Dodgers bullpen. A single, a walk and a throwing error by Brandon League on a sacrifice bunt loaded the bases with nobody out in the seventh inning. J.P. Howell entered and immediately allowed a line drive to left field that had designs on tying the game, at least, but the ball found its way into the glove of a sliding Crawford in left for the first out.
Howell then got Rollins to ground into a force play at third, and got Ruiz to pop out to right field to end the threat.
HELL, PA - As temperatures dipped below 32 degrees, the Dodgers retired Carlos Ruiz with the bases loaded.— Dodger Insider (@DodgerInsider) May 24, 2014
Puig has reached base in 24 straight games, hitting .411/.509/.747 during that span.
Howell has inherited a team-high 16 baserunners this season, and has allowed only two to score.
Brian Wilson pitched a perfect eighth inning with two strikeouts, his fourth straight scoreless appearance.
In his major league debut, Erisbel Arruebarrena walked his second time up but was otherwise 0-for-3 with three strikeouts. The defensive specialist didn't have a single ball hit to him all night.
Home run: Carl Crawford (4)
Stolen bases: Dee Gordon 3 (28)
WP - Clayton Kershaw (3-1): 6 IP, 2 hits, 3 walks, 9 strikeouts
LP - Roberto Hernandez (2-2): 6⅓ IP, 7 hits, 2 runs, 4 walks, 3 strikeouts
Sv - Kenley Jansen (14): 1 IP, 1 strikeout