July 18 is one of Clayton Kershaw’s most dominant days on the calendar, spread across four starts in a nine-year stretch.
The Dodgers entered this one with a comfortable (6½-game) lead in the division, but they lost 10 of their previous 15 non-Kershaw starts. But they had Kershaw in this one so things were alright.
He struck out seven in seven scoreless innings, allowing only two hits. This was the end of a Kershaw stretch in which he allowed three total runs in seven starts, all Dodgers wins.
Kershaw’s next start on this date came in 2012, and was a battle of Cy Young Award winners. It was also his worst start on July 18, because he had the gall to allow a run.
From my game recap:
Clayton Kershaw was great, allowing one run and five hits in eight innings, striking out seven without a walk.
Cliff Lee was great, allowing one run and two hits in eight innings, striking out four with one walk, needing just 89 pitches to do so.
Both pitchers got no-decisions, but Matt Kemp decided things with a two-run, walk-off home run in the 12th inning to beat the Phillies.
Kershaw and the Dodgers were in Washington D.C. on July 18, 2015, in one of the best starts of his career.
Kershaw mowed down the Nationals, striking out two batters in each of his first seven innings, allowing no runs and three singles. His chance at a career high in strikeouts faded in the eighth with three groundouts. Kershaw only allowed four balls hit out of the infield all day.
It was the second straight scoreless start for Kershaw, who extended his scoreless streak to 20 innings (it would reach 37 innings, the second-longest of his career).
From my game recap:
Kershaw’s only game with more strikeouts was during his no-hitter against the Rockies on June 18, 2015, when he strick out 15. The Dodgers franchise record for strikeouts in a game is 18, held by Sandy Koufax (twice) and Ramon Martinez, who last turned the trick on June 4, 1990.
Kershaw is the first Dodgers pitcher with at least 13 strikeouts in back-to-back games since Chan Ho Park from Sept. 24-29 2000.
The only Dodgers pitcher since 1914 with back-to-back starts of double-digit strikeouts and no walks was Vance on Sept. 11-16, 1930.
The Dodgers started their post-break schedule against the White Sox in Chicago in 2017, and Kershaw was magnificent on July 18. He had to be, thanks to Miguel Gonzalez holding Los Angeles to just one run.
Kershaw kept Chicago off the board all night, though he dodged traffic most of this one. His last inning was a fitting flourish to end his night. From my game recap:
Kershaw was heavily involved in getting through the seventh, fielding two ground balls for a pair of 1-3 putouts to open the frame. Then, after Tim Anderson singled with two outs, Kershaw picked him off, another 1-3 putout — the call was originally safe, but overturned on replay review — to finish his night.
Kershaw leads all active pitchers in baseball with 58 pickoffs, with James Shields the next closest at 33. But that was also Kershaw’s first pickoff since 2015.
The Dodgers won this one 1-0, thanks to the first inning, when Chris Taylor singled to open the game then stole second, and scored on a single by rookie Cody Bellinger.
In Kershaw’s four starts on July 18, he allowed one run in 30 innings, with 35 strikeouts. Not too shabby.
2009 (W, 8-5): 7 IP, 7 hits, 1 walk, 7 strikeouts
2012: 8 IP, 5 hits, 1 run, 7 strikeouts
2015 (W, 7-6): 8 IP, 3 hits, 14 strikeouts
2017 (W, 15-2): 7 IP, 7 hits, 1 walk, 7 strikeouts
Up next: Nothing on Sunday, but another four-start day coming Monday