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Clayton Kershaw day by day: A series of firsts

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Madison Bumgarner and Tropicana Field are prominently involved

Los Angeles Dodgers v San Francisco Giants

Clayton Kershaw in his career has two starts on May 21, both representing firsts for him.

The first such May 21 start came in 2015, a Thursday afternoon at AT&T Park against the Giants.

Kershaw pitched quite well in this game, lasting into the eighth inning, and left trailing 2-0. Both runners on base were cashed in after he left, but from a functional standpoint it didn’t matter much. The Dodgers were swept in San Francisco, and not just for this game but for the entire series. Los Angeles would finally score a run in their next game, snapping a string of 35 consecutive scoreless innings.

But for this Thursday game in San Francisco, the only run the Giants needed was provided by Madison Bumgarner, who homered in the third inning against Kershaw. From my game recap:

San Francisco scored the run they needed in the third inning, when 2014 National League Silver Slugger award winner Bumgarner took Kershaw deep to left. Opposing pitchers had hit .093/.141/.105 in 410 career plate appearances against Kershaw entering Thursday, with four doubles as the only extra-base hits.

Kershaw has since allowed four more home runs to pitchers, including one more to Bumgarner, and including one in the postseason to Brandon Woodruff.

On May 21, 2019, Kershaw pitched at Tropicana Field for the first time. Much like the start four years earlier, he left the game with one out and two runners on base, and both scored after he left.

This time it was in the seventh, and the Dodgers were already up 6-0 on the Rays before those two runs came in, so Kershaw still got the win rather easily.

The outings

2015 (L, 2-3): 7⅓ IP, 7 hits, 4 runs, 2 walks, 7 strikeouts

2019 (W, 4-0): 6⅓ IP, 6 hits, 2 runs, 1 walk, 8 strikeouts

Up next: Interleague play, from 2009