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Clayton Kershaw day by day: Three weddings & a funeral

4 career Kershaw starts on May 17

Los Angeles Dodgers v Florida Marlins Photo by Ronald C. Modra/Getty Images

Clayton Kershaw has four career starts on May 17 in his career. Three were great, and one was an absolute clunker. Let’s look back at all of them.

In 2009, the Dodgers were visiting the Marlins on getaway day in Miami, and a 21-year-old Kershaw carried a 5.21 ERA into this start. He walked four batters in seven innings, but that was literally it.

Kershaw had a no-hitter through seven innings, and already matched his career high with 108 pitches. Manager Joe Torre let Kershaw start the eighth because, as pitching coach Rick Honeycutt told the Associated Press, “No-hitters are sacred. They don’t come along too often.”

Cody Ross ended the suspense quickly, leading off the eighth with a double. Kershaw left with a 6-0 lead, though Ross was added to his ledger by scoring on a single against Guillermo Mota. The Dodgers won 12-5.

The AP game recap noted Kershaw threw “about a dozen changeups, a season high,” a pitch he has not used consistently throughout his career. Brooks Baseball classified 11 pitches from this start as changeups, on which Kershaw induced five swings and misses.

Kershaw’s next May 17 start came in 2014 against the Diamondbacks in Phoenix, and he didn’t stick around long enough to see even the third inning. From my game recap:

Kershaw allowed seven runs on six hits and two walks while recording just five outs. Arizona scored all of their seven runs against Kershaw in the second inning, an inning that saw them hit three triples and a double. Kershaw even balked for good measure.

The three triples in a single inning set a franchise record for the Diamondbacks, and also marked the first time Kershaw has ever allowed more than one triple in a game. In fact, Kershaw has allowed three triples in a season just three times, with a high of four in 2010.

Since this start, Kershaw allowed three triples in a season only once, in 2019.

After allowing seven runs in this start, Kershaw would recover by allowing seven total runs over his next nine starts.

On May 17, 2016, Kershaw was home to face the Angels, continuing one of the best stretches of his career. He struck out 11 in this one, despite facing the team with the lowest strikeout rate in the league. That made six straight double-digit strikeout games for Kershaw, the longest streak of his career, during which he struck out 68 and walked two.

From my game recap:

Three singles and a balk in the second inning gave the Angels a run, but after that it was nothing doing. Kershaw retired his final 13 batters faced, lasting eight innings for the fifth time in nine starts this year. He lowered his ERA to 1.67.

Kershaw also walked zero, again, giving him 23 strikeouts since his last walk, and on the season an absurd 88 strikeouts and four walks in 70 innings.

One year later, Kershaw and the Dodgers were in San Francisco on May 17, facing Johnny Cueto and the Giants.

Kershaw retired his first 10 batters faced, and the Dodgers’ two runs in the first inning were all the support he would need on this night. From my game recap:

Kershaw allowed only three singles in seven innings, and kept the Giants off the scoreboard, his ninth career scoreless start against them and seventh in San Francisco.

In his four career starts on May 17, Kershaw has a 3.42 ERA with six walks and 28 strikeouts in 23⅔ innings. Seven of his nine runs allowed on this date came in that 2014 start.

The outings

2009 (2-3): 7+ IP, 1 hit, 1 run, 4 walks, 9 strikeouts

2014 (L, 2-1): 1⅔ IP, 6 hits, 7 runs, 2 walks, 3 strikeouts

2016 (W, 6-1): 8 IP, 4 hits, 1 run, 11 strikeouts

2017 (W, 7-2): 7 IP, 3 hits, 5 strikeouts

Up next: Back to a single-start day, on May 18