LOS ANGELES — There’s a reason that, if given the choice, one should never miss a Clayton Kershaw start. Tuesday night provided one of the reasons why, with Kershaw at his best in the Dodgers’ series opener against the Cardinals.
One year to the day that Kershaw was the last Dodgers pitcher to throw a shutout, he came within two outs of another on Tuesday, but a wild pitch that Yasmani Grandal couldn’t find allowed Randal Grichuk to score from second base, tying the game at 1-1.
Though he didn’t get the ending in the manner he might have wanted, Kershaw accomplished something pretty special along the way.
Kershaw didn’t pitch a no-hitter on Tuesday. The man has one no-hitter in 273 starts. Simple logic tells us it’s probably not going to happen, yet we find ourselves wondering if each start will provide the next one, until the first hit or first runner reaches base.
Yadier Molina ended the no-hit bid rather early on Tuesday, with a solid single to center field with one out in the second inning. He also got caught trying to steal second for some reason, and when Kershaw retired the next 10 batters he was through five innings facing just the minimum 15 batters.
All-time WHIP leaders
A leadoff double by Aledmys Diaz gave the Cardinals hope in the sixth inning, with the Dodgers clinging to a one-run lead, and he was advanced to third base with one out. But Kershaw struck out Lance Lynn and Dexter Fowler to end the threat.
Still leading 1-0 in the eighth inning, Kershaw struck out the side, giving him 10 on the night, the 53rd double-digit strikeout game of his career.
A leadoff single by Grichuk opened the ninth, then he advanced on a ground out, setting up the tying wild pitch.
Kershaw finished his night needing just 104 pitches to complete the ninth, his longest start of the season.
“The curve ball was as good as it’s been all year. The slider I felt was very sharp,” manager Dave Roberts said. “Everything was working tonight. He deserved a chance to finish that game.”
By allowing just the three baserunners on Tuesday, Kershaw also moved into very rare territory, lowering his career WHIP below one. He has 1,346 hits allowed and 485 walks in 1,831⅔ innings, good for a WHIP of 0.99964.
“I’m not worried about the career stuff,” Kershaw said. “Eventually, you’ll get to look back on it all. Hopefully, I’m right in the middle of all that stuff.”
The only other two pitchers in major league history with a sub-1.000 WHIP are Addie Joss (0.9678) and Ed Walsh (0.99955), and they pitched in the dead ball era.
So yeah, if you notice that Kershaw is going to be pitching and you can find your way to the game, make sure you do. Even if it doesn’t end like you may have thought.