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Clayton Kershaw will face tough strikeout test with Angels

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Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

Clayton Kershaw looks for his fourth straight win and tries to stop a two-game losing streak for the Dodgers in the second game of their Freeway Series against the Angels. There are also a few other streaks in play for Kershaw, who will have his hands full trying to extend them against the Halos.

This is the sixth time in eight non-opening-day starts that Kershaw takes the ball after a Dodgers loss, and the fifth straight occurrence. So far, the Dodgers are 4-1 in those starts.

Kershaw enters Tuesday night with an absurd 77 strikeouts and just four walks, including five consecutive starts with double-digit strikeouts, the first pitcher in Dodgers history to do so.

During that streak he also has not walked more than one batter in any start. Kershaw's streak of five straight starts of double-digit strikeouts and no more than one walk is the longest in MLB dating back to at least 1913.

Kershaw this season has a 34.2-percent strikeout rate, even better than his major-league-best totals in 2015 (33.8 percent) and 2014 (31.9 percent). Perhaps the most surprising is that Kershaw doesn't lead the majors this season. Instead, Jose Fernandez and his 35.2-percent strikeout rate is tops in baseball, though his 69 strikeouts trail Kershaw by eight.

That's because Kershaw is pitching abnormally deep into games this season, averaging 7.75 innings per start. He has lasted at least seven innings in all eight of his starts this season, his longest streak ever to open a season and tied for the second-longest streak of his career. He had a 17-start streak from June to September 2014.

But the Angels come in with a four-game winning streak, including taking Monday's series opener 7-6. The Halos have scored 36 runs in their last five games, and they rarely strike out.

The Halos have the lowest strikeout rate among batters, at just 15.5 percent. As a team they have struck out in double digits just twice this season, and one of those was a 12-inning game in April in Minnesota.

So Kershaw will have his work cut out for him in terms of strikeouts, not that it matters to him.

"As long as you keep your pitch count down, it doesn't matter how you're getting outs," Kershaw said after his shutout of the Mets on Thursday.

Kershaw is averaging 104.5 pitches per start this season and his only reached 110 pitches twice, topping out at 116.

Maybe he can just focus on being stingy with the walks then. Kershaw has walked zero or one batter in each of his last 11 starts, dating back to 2015, the longest such streak of his career. During that span he has six walks to go with his 106 strikeouts.

Other active streaks for Kershaw include 11 straight scoreless innings overall, and 19 straight scoreless innings at home, including two straight home shutouts. The last pitcher with three consecutive shutouts at Dodger Stadium was Fernando Valenzuela in May 1986.

Game info

Time: 7:10 p.m. PT

TV: SportsNet LA