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Clayton Kershaw day by day: A pair of gems and a duel

3 career Kershaw starts on June 20

Baseball - Interleague Play - Indians vs. Dodgers Photo by Cliff Welch/Icon SMI/Icon Sport Media via Getty Images

Clayton Kershaw has three career starts on June 20, including one from his rookie season and two gems later on.

Up first was June 20, 2008 against the Indians at Dodger Stadium, Kershaw’s sixth major league start. He faced off against Cliff Lee, fresh into his multi-year residence in the best-pitcher-in-baseball stratosphere.

Lee handled the Dodgers very well throughout his career. In nine starts including the playoffs, Lee allowed 10 total runs. None of those starts were shorter than seven innings, and Lee posted a 1.30 ERA with 75 strikeouts against only 10 walks. He was dominant, even if the Dodgers somehow managed to eventually win four of those starts.

Just not this one.

Kershaw mostly held his own, allowing a solo home run to Kelly Shoppach and an RBI double by future old friend Casey Blake in the first five innings. Kershaw faced two batters to start the sixth, including future old friend Jamey Carroll, and walked them both, ending his day.

Both bequeathed runs scored on a single against Scott Proctor.

The Dodgers got their run against Lee in the eighth, and naturally it scored after Lee left the game.

Three years later, Kershaw himself was getting oriented with the best-pitcher-in-baseball group meetings, and on June 20 the Dodgers were home against the Tigers and old friend Brad Penny.

Juan Uribe, who was batting second (!!), homered in the first inning, providing all the support Kershaw would need on this night.

The main threat against Kershaw was a leadoff double by Ryan Raburn in the third inning, but Dioner Navarro later picked him off third base to end the frame. Kershaw allowed only a single and a walk the rest of the way, and retired his final 13 batters faced, including three swinging strikeouts in the ninth inning.

It was Kershaw’s third career shutout, and his second in five starts. This was the second of three career two-hitters for Kershaw (he also pitched a two-hit shutout 22 days earlier).

But it wasn’t only on the mound that Kershaw excelled in this one. From my game recap:

Kershaw helped himself in the bottom of the eighth inning, delivering a bases-loaded single that brought home two runs, pushing the lead to 4-0. The last Dodger to pitch a shutout and drive in at least two runs was Derek Lowe, who did so against the Padres on April 15, 2005.

It took until 2016 for Kershaw to pitch again on June 20, this time also at home, against the Nationals.

Run support came in the form of home runs by Justin Turner and Joc Pederson, and Kershaw kept the Nationals at bay with eight strikeouts. They didn’t score against him until the seventh, when three singles produced a run. But that was it.

From my game recap:

Harper found it especially tough against Kershaw, striking out all three times against him on Monday night. In his career, Harper is 1-for-15 with 10 strikeouts against Kershaw, though the one hit was a home run.

Also in this game, Kenley Jansen set the Dodgers all-time record for saves.

In these three starts on June 20, Kershaw has a 2.14 ERA with 24 strikeouts in 21 innings.

The outings

2008: 5 IP, 4 hits, 4 runs, 3 walks, 5 strikeouts

2011 (W, 7-3): 9 IP, 2 hits, 1 walk, 11 strikeouts

2016 (W, 11-1): 7 IP, 6 hits, 1 run, 8 strikeouts

Up next: Another three-start day