The Hall of Fame pitching duel lived up to the hype, for two-thirds of the game anyway, while Zach McKinstry provided the offense in leading the Dodgers to a 3-0 win and a sweep of the Nationals on Sunday afternoon at Dodger Stadium.
Scoring opportunities were scarce thanks to Clayton Kershaw and Max Scherzer both being on their game.
“The level of compete with these guys is next level. Obviously when they’re opposing one another, I think it might be — if at all possible — heightened that much more,” manager Dave Roberts said before Sunday’s game. “To watch the best of our generation go head to head, I’m excited.”
Kershaw in his first home start of the season was especially sharp, allowing only five singles and no walks. The biggest threat probably came in the sixth, when a wild pitch put the speedy Trea Turner in scoring position with nobody out. But Kershaw responded by retiring the next three in order, including strikeouts of Juan Soto and Jordy Mercer, giving Kershaw six strikeouts on the day.
Kershaw only threw 86 pitches, but with his spot due up leading off the bottom of the sixth in 1-0 game, his day was complete.
This was Kershaw’s 100th career win at Dodger Stadium, including 95 in the regular season and five in postseason play. Only Hall of Famer Don Sutton, with 130, has more wins at Dodger Stadium.
In 198 career starts at Chavez Ravine in both the regular season and postseason combined, Kershaw has 48 scoreless outings.
That the Dodgers held a 1-0 lead wasn’t necessarily a knock on Scherzer, who was excellent in his own right, with five strikeouts and four baserunners allowed in his six innings. But McKinstry was able to harness the power of the sun with a fly ball double that confounded center fielder Victor Robles with two outs in the second inning. That scored Max Muncy, who singled and has a robust .524 on-base percentage through 10 games.
McKinstry was able to provide some more power, though not of the solar variety, in the seventh inning, by lining a home run to right field off Tanner Rainey to widen the Dodgers’ lead to 3-0.
“It’s definitely awesome when you get a chance to jog the bases instead of running,” quipped McKinstry, whose first home run, eight days ago in Colorado, was inside the park.
The rookie McKinstry, who has started games at second base, right field, and left field this season — including starting the last seven games while Cody Bellinger and Mookie Betts have been hurt — leads the Dodgers with 10 runs batted in, and is tied for the team lead with two home runs.
Home run: Zach McKinstry (2)
WP — Clayton Kershaw (2-1): 6 IP, 5 hits, 6 strikeouts
LP — Max Scherzer (0-1): 6 IP, 3 hits, 1 run, 5 strikeouts
Sv — Kenley Jansen (2): 1 IP, 2 strikeouts
The Dodgers are off Monday, but stay home to start a three-game series on Tuesday against the Rockies. Trevor Bauer makes his first home start as a Dodger in the opener (7:10 p.m., SportsNet LA), facing right-hander Antonio Senzatela.