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Clayton Kershaw day by day: The start in Australia

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On March 22, 2014, Kershaw started the Dodgers’ first-ever game in Australia.

Baseball - MLB - Los Angeles Dodgers Vs. Arizona Diamondbacks - Opening Series Sydney Photo by Steve Christo/Corbis via Getty Images

We’ve reached the point of the baseball shutdown when we are looking for just about anything that might be relevant. Once the season gets going, there might be opportunities to look back at games from years passed. But for now, I wanted to start a new project, reviewing Clayton Kershaw day by day.

I want to start with Kershaw’s 2014 start in Australia, because it was the earliest start of his career on the calendar. That start was on March 22, and you might (justifiably) be wondering “but this is March 23, why wasn’t this posted yesterday?”

The answer is that I just thought of it today, but in looking forward this seems like a project rife with opportunities to have at least one new post on the site just about every day. This is the point in the telethon when I ask you to please click.

Kershaw has only started three regular season games in March, so the everyday portion of this is still about a week away. But perusing his game logs, from April to June, Kershaw has pitched on 82 of a possible 91 days, which is understandable given that Kershaw has pitched in 347 career games, including 344 starts. I smell content.

I’m not exactly sure what the format will be for these posts, but we’ll figure it out along the way. In just about every case, except maybe for 2008, there will likely be an old True Blue LA game recap or other post to link to, depending on what happened each time. Eventually we will find out just which date has been the best thus far in Kershaw’s career. I have a spreadsheet of his starts sorted now, and could probably figure this out in reasonable time, but I like the idea of being somewhat surprised along the way as we go along.

On to today’s yesterday’s game:

The Dodgers and Diamondbacks opened the 2014 season with two games at the Sydney Cricket Grounds in Australia. Both were designated road games for the Dodgers, and the teams were technically allowed to carry 28 players, though functionally the roster still contained the usual 25 active players. The three opening day Dodgers who didn’t make the trip to Australia were pitchers Zack Greinke, Dan Haren, and Brandon League.

This was the fourth straight opening day start for Kershaw, who was making his 163rd career appearance and his 161st start. He pitched 6⅔ innings, allowing a run while striking out seven in the 3-1 win, and that Arizona scored off Kershaw was noteworthy. From my game recap:

The run was the first allowed by Kershaw on Opening Day, in his 25th career inning.

Kershaw was also 1-for-3 at the plate, with a seventh-inning single off reliever Will Harris.

A couple things to remember about this game: one, it started at 8 p.m. in Sydney, which was 1 a.m. in Los Angeles (the finale of the series was played the next day in Sydney, a 7 p.m. PT start). I viewed this game at a watch party at the SportsNet LA studios, and you haven’t truly lived until you’ve posted a game recap at 4:50 a.m.

The other notable thing about this start was it would be the last for awhile for Kershaw, as he was scratched from his next start, on March 30 in San Diego, the Dodgers’ domestic opener. Kershaw began the season on the 15-day disabled list with inflammation in his upper back, and Google searches for “teres major” skyrocketed in and around Los Angeles.

Kershaw missed over six weeks with the injury in what was his first career trip to the disabled list, though it didn’t dampen his regular season much at all. He still pitched 198⅓ innings despite the missed time, and led the majors in ERA (1.77), FIP (1.81), ERA+ (197), WHIP (0.857), strikeout rate (31.9%), strikeout-to-walk ratio (7.71), and wins (21). Kershaw won his third Cy Young Award in 2014, and was voted the NL MVP, too.

And it all began with a start down under.

Up next: March 29, another opening day start for Kershaw