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Clayton Kershaw day by day: A wild ride


St. Louis Cardinals v Los Angeles Dodgers Photo by Lisa Blumenfeld/Getty Images

Clayton Kershaw hasn’t started on June 9 in eight years, but his three early-career starts on this date were a bumpy ride.

Up first was a Wednesday night home game against the Cardinals in 2010. The Dodgers built an early 4-0 lead, which was enough to withstand Ryan Ludwick’s three-run homer against Kershaw in the fourth inning.

That was all Kershaw allowed, and he struck out 10 for the win. But who cares about any of that?

This was the day we were all introduced to the shitshow that is Vladimir Shpunt! From my game recap:

This win came amid bizarre news from Bill Shaikin of the LA Times that the Dodgers paid a Russian “scientist and healer” named Vladimir Shpunt to provide positive energy for the club by watching the club from afar. The line of the article, which reads more like a parody than anything else, came courtesy of an email from attorney Barry Cohen to Jamie McCourt, after Steve Finley’s division-clinching walk-off grand slam in 2004: ”The miracle finish … was the result of V energy. Frank was privileged to actually feel the energy.” Say what you want about the McCourt ownership, but you have to hand it to them for finding new and creative ways to embarrass themselves.

Kershaw and the Dodgers rode Shpunt’s good vibes to a win on this day.

A year later on June 9, the Dodgers were in Colorado, and they gave Kershaw another 4-0 lead.

This one didn’t end as well. Three hits and a walk in the sixth plated three runs against Kershaw, and the Dodgers extended their lead to 7-3 in the top of the inning. That was still the lead when Kershaw left, but the Dodgers were in a precarious position.

From my game recap:

For the second straight game, Clayton Kershaw allowed no runs through five innings, then imploded in the sixth and seventh. But it wasn’t all him.

Kershaw faced three batters in the seventh, but didn’t retire any of them, leaving with the bases loaded and nobody out. Scott Elbert faced three batters, retiring the one right-hander but allowing both lefties (who happened to be Carlos Gonzalez and Todd Helton) to reach base.

Elbert allowed two inherited runners to score, and Mike MacDougal allowed another. In all, the Rockies scored five in the inning and eventually won 9-7.

In 2012, the Dodgers were no-hit on a Saturday night in Seattle by Kevin Millwood and five (!!) relievers, including future old friend Brandon League. In the series finale one day later, the Dodgers got 14 hits and won easily.

Kershaw was dominant, striking out a season-high 12, his only blemish a three-run home run by Miguel Olivo, presumably on a lobe fastball.

From Phil Gurnee’s game recap:

Clayton Kershaw picked up three strike outs in the first inning and that was just the beginning. His fast ball was popping, his slider was slidering, and his curve ball was curving. Pity the fools who had to stand in against him on this day.

So we have two Kershaw wins with double-digit strikeouts, each including a three-run home run against him. And a scoreless start at Coors until the sixth, when the wheels fell off. Oh yeah, and a Russian faith healer.

Kershaw filled up the line score in his three June 9 starts, with 28 strikeouts and seven walks in 20 innings, to go with a 5.40 ERA, and two wins. Wild times.

The outings

2010 (W, 6-3): 7 IP, 4 hits, 3 runs, 2 walks, 10 strikeouts

2011: 6 IP, 7 hits, 6 runs, 3 walks, 6 strikeouts

2012 (W, 5-3): 7 IP, 4 hits, 3 runs, 2 walks, 12 strikeouts

Up next: An even busier day on June 10