We’ve reached the halfway point of our review of Clayton Kershaw games, with three more games on July 1, all Dodgers wins.
Kershaw made 173 starts through June in his career, and from July through the end of the regular season he has appeared in 174 games, including 171 starts and three relief appearances.
July is the best month of Kershaw’s career, with his best ERA (1.70), most complete games (eight), tied for most shutouts (five), fewest home runs (12, in 53 starts), and a 33-7 record. Four of Kershaw’s six National League Pitcher of the Month awards have come in July (2011, 2013-15).
His three starts on the first of July came early in his career, with his last eight years ago.
Up first for Kershaw on July 1 was in 2008, his eighth career start and, as a road game against the Astros, the left-hander’s first major league game in his home state of Texas.
Houston scored a run just two batters into the game, on a double by Michael Bourn and a single by Hunter Pence, but Kershaw settled down after that. He also already had a 2-0 lead before that inning began, and the Dodgers extended it to 6-1 by the sixth.
Kershaw allowed a walk and a single in the sixth inning, and left with two outs after 90 pitches, his most thrown in three weeks. It was his longest start since his major league debut. Reliever Brian Falkenborg allowed a home run to Ty Wigginton, his first batter faced, charging two more runs to Kershaw’s ledger and pulling the Astros to within 6-4.
Kershaw’s quest for a first major league win ended in the seventh, when Carlos Lee’s two-run double off Jonathan Broxton tied the game. The Dodgers were able to win this game in the 11th on a home run by former Astros second baseman Jeff Kent, off former Dodgers farmhand Wesley Wright.
One day later the Dodgers optioned Kershaw to Double-A Jacksonville, where he would stay for three weeks before coming back up for good.
This was a pitchers’ duel with Jason Hammel, with Kershaw stranding runners in scoring position in the first and third innings. The game was still scoreless when Kershaw left, though that was relatively early in the game. From my game recap:
Clayton Kershaw was both brilliant and maddening, allowing only one hit in five innings, but also throwing 97 pitches while walking a career-high five batters. Kershaw (52 walks) and Chad Billingsley (51 walks) lead the major leagues in bases on balls this season.
Los Angeles pushed across a run in the eighth inning to win this one, the last game of Manny Ramirez’s 50-game PED suspension. The Dodgers went 29-21 while he was away.
On July 1, 2012, the Dodgers were reeling and amid one of their worst offensive stretches in franchise history, facing the Mets at Dodger Stadium. They lost 11 of their last 12, scoring 15 total runs in that span, and were shut out in five of their previous six games.
A first-inning run felt like a bounty for the Dodgers, but the Mets had already scored in the top of the frame, and would add two more runs (both unearned) off Kershaw in the third inning. But that was all Kershaw would allow through, and he retired his final nine batters faced.
When Juan Rivera walked, Adam Kennedy hit a ground-rule double, and James Loney grounded out for a run in the sixth, the Dodgers had their first lead in 66 innings.
From my game recap:
Enter Clayton Kershaw, who helped snap the Dodgers’ losing streak at seven games with his strong performance. Kershaw pitched seven innings and struck out nine to earn his sixth win of the year.
“You always want to be the stopper, no matter where you’re pitching,” Kershaw said.
Kershaw was named an All-Star before this game, his second trip to the midsummer classic.
In these three starts on July 1, Kershaw has a 2.04 ERA with 18 strikeouts and 10 walks in 17⅔ innings.
2008: 5⅔ IP, 6 hits, 3 runs, 2 walks, 4 strikeouts
2009: 5 IP, 1 hits, 5 walks, 5 strikeouts
2012 (W, 6-4): 7 IP, 5 hits, 3 runs (1 earned), 3 walks, 9 strikeouts
Up next: Both ends of the spectrum