Today we have another two-start Clayton Kershaw day, and since they are so spread apart we can see a contrast in styles.
On April 9, 2009, Kershaw started on the road in San Diego, a Thursday day game to end the season-opening four game series against the Padres. This was Kershaw’s first start as a 21-year-old.
He walked four in five innings, but limited the damage to just one run on two hits, both by David Eckstein, the last an RBI single that tied the game at 1-1 in the fifth. Kershaw singled and scored the Dodgers’ first run, in the third inning against future old friend Kevin Correia.
Kershaw needed 105 pitches to get through those five innings, and stood to win after the Dodgers scratched across the go-ahead runs in the top of the sixth. But a three-run eighth by the Padres ended hopes of a Kershaw win, in a 4-3 loss to San Diego.
After that 2009 start, Kershaw’s 23rd major league appearance, his career ERA was 4.15. After his April 9 start seven years later, his 246th` MLB game, Kershaw’s career ERA was 2.42.
On April 9, 2016, Kershaw made his second start as a 28-year-old, a Saturday afternoon game at AT&T Park in San Francisco.
This was peak-efficiency Kershaw, a year in which he only walked 11 batters in 21 starts. After throwing 105 pitches on April 9, 2009, Kershaw seven years to the day needed only 91 pitches to get through eight innings, a normal occurrence that year. Kershaw in 2016 lasted at least seven innings in each of his first 11 starts, and in 14 of his first 15 starts.
But in those eight innings against the Giants, solo home runs from unlikely sources — Madison Bumgarner and Ehire Adrianza — were the bane of Kershaw’s existence. It was the second career home run for Adrianza, but the Bumgarner shot was a little more familiar. From my game recap:
In 454 career plate appearances against pitchers, Kershaw has allowed only two home runs. Both by Bumgarner, who is just the 17th player with multiple career home runs against Kershaw, with Adam Dunn’s four the most by any one player.
Kershaw left trailing 2-1, but the Dodgers rallied to tie in the ninth inning, then won in the 10th on a Charlie Culberson double.
2009: 5 IP, 2 hits, 1 run, 4 walks, 6 strikeouts
2018: 8 IP, 4 hits, 2 runs, 1 walk, 5 strikeouts
Up next: Back to a single-start day for April 10.