Clayton Kershaw made his major league debut 12 years ago today, the first of three career starts on May 25. That 2008 debut was also his only career game wearing uniform number 54.
The Dodgers hosted the Cardinals on Sunday, May 25, 2008, with the 20-year-old left-hander added to the roster from Double-A Jacksonville. To make room for Kershaw on the 40-man roster, pitcher Esteban Loaiza was simultaneously activated from the disabled list and designated for assignment. It was ghame over for Yhency Brazoban on the active roster, with the reliever optioned to Triple-A Las Vegas.
Kershaw’s first batter faced was future old friend Skip Schumaker, who struck out on seven pitches. A four-pitch walk to Brian Barton followed, immediately cashed in by the terrifying Albert Pujols, who doubled to the gap in left field.
The Dodgers quickly tied things up with a home run by Luis Maza, which served as a reminder that 2008 was so very long ago. But then it seemed like just yesterday in the fourth inning, when Russell Martin doubled home the go-ahead run.
After the double by Pujols, Kershaw retired 10 of his next 11 batters, erasing the only one to reach base with a double play. The Dodgers still led 2-1 into the sixth, until Barton and Pujols singled to put runners on the corners with one out. A ground out by Ryan Ludwick brought home the equalizer, but Kershaw finished the inning with no further damage.
Kershaw’s final details of his debut included 102 pitches in six innings, two runs allowed, one walk, and seven strikeouts. This one took 10 innings to complete, with Andre Ethier delivering a walk-off single for a 4-3 win.
He was even stingier in this one, only allowing a single run in the sixth inning. It was unearned, with Ryan Theriot reaching on an error then stealing second before scoring on a single by Derrek Lee. From my game recap:
Kershaw was plagued tonight by foul balls, as the Cubs fouled off 30 of his 104 pitches, including 15 foul balls in fourth inning alone. During that inning, Kershaw threw just five balls in 28 pitches, but the foul balls led to a high pitch count and a six-inning outing, which now qualifies as a short start for Clayton.
Though he allowed just the single run, that was enough to take the loss, with Ryan Dempster pitching eight scoreless innings in a 3-0 win for Chicago.
In 2012 Kershaw was back on the mound on May 25, this time a seven-inning start against the Astros at Dodger Stadium. Much like the 2010 start, the Dodgers didn’t score a run with Kershaw in the game.
Kershaw allowed three runs, the big blow a two-run home run by J.D. Martinez in the third inning. Houston also threatened most of the night. From the game recap:
Kershaw allowed four doubles for the third time in his career, and the first time since April 24, 2010 against the Washington Nationals. With the home run by Martinez, Kershaw allowed five extra-base hits for the second time in his career, with the other game also that game two years ago against Washington.
It’s been eight years since Kershaw made his last May 25 start, and though he’s still looking for his first win on this date, despite his 1.89 ERA.
2009: 6 IP, 5 hits, 2 runs, 1 walk, 7 strikeouts
2010 (L, 4-3): 6 IP, 4 hits, 1 unearned run, 2 walks, 4 strikeouts
2012 (L, 4-2): 7 IP, 5 hits, 3 runs (2 earned), 3 walks, 6 strikeouts
Up next: A couple of seven-inning starts on May 26