On the day before full rosters are announced for the All-Star Game at Dodger Stadium, the Dodgers rallied behind Clayton Kershaw, who delivered another excellent start en route a 4-2 win over the Cubs, the sixth straight win for Los Angeles.
Kershaw flashed his All-Star credentials by striking out 10 in a season-high 7⅔ innings, pitching into the eighth inning for the first time in 2022. It was the second straight time he’s pitched at least seven innings, and fourth time in 11 starts he’s gone that deep this season.
He walked none, and both runs he allowed were aided by dubious defense behind him, with two errors scored as hits and an actual throwing error making one of the two runs unearned.
Now the only question is whether Kershaw’s next appearance, or even start, at Dodger Stadium will be in a game that counts or not.
Manager Dave Roberts told reporters before Saturday’s game that he planned to lobby on behalf of Kershaw to Braves manager Brian Snitker, the manager of the National League All-Stars who is tasked with selecting the starting pitcher.
“I’d be crazy not to think that Clayton should be named the starter,” Roberts said, as shown on SportsNet LA.
Saturday was Kershaw’s 213th career start at Dodger Stadium, including the postseason. In exactly two-third of them, 142 starts in total, the left-hander allowed two or fewer runs.
Thanks to a month on the injured list he doesn’t have nearly enough innings to qualify for the leaderboard. But when he’s been on the mound, Kershaw has been fantastic. Among NL pitchers with at least 60 innings, Kershaw ranks fifth in ERA (2.40), fifth in FIP (2.57), and sixth in strikeout-minus-walk rate (22.8 percent).
Another Dodger hopeful to get good All-Star news on Sunday is Freddie Freeman, whose two-run single in the eighth capped a three-run rally and gave the Dodgers their first lead of the game.
That provided enough of a cushion to endure a ninth inning by Craig Kimbrel, who allowed a walk but escaped otherwise unscathed with two strikeouts.
Injuries to Mookie Betts and Chris Taylor over the last month forced the Dodgers to scramble for capable outfielders they could use with any sort of regularity. First came Trayce Thompson, acquired via trade from his minor league deal with the Tigers. Shortly after came Jake Lamb, a minor league signee in March who was called up to the Dodgers on June 28.
Those two have split time, with one of them starting each of the last 16 games, either in the outfield or at designated hitter. Thompson, the right-handed batter and better defensive outfielder, has started nine times. Lamb made his seventh start on Saturday, getting the call in left field. His home run in the seventh inning tied the game, his second home run in as many days.
Lamb and Thompson have been a rousing success in the early going, hitting a combined .298/.394/.632 with four home runs, five doubles, a triple, nine runs scored, and 12 RBI in 66 plate appearances.
Gavin Lux singled in the second inning for the Dodgers’ first hit, but was thrown out by catcher Yan Gomes trying to steal second base. It was the first time a Dodger was caught stealing since exactly one month ago, when Lux was thrown out by another Chicago catcher, old friend Yasmani Grandal of the White Sox.
Trea Turner stole a base later in that June 9 game, starting a string of 20 consecutive successful steal attempts. On the season, the Dodgers have the highest stolen base rate in the National League (87.7 percent), trailing only the White Sox (89.7 percent) in the majors. By volume, the Dodgers’ 57 stolen bases rank sixth in the majors.
Home run: Jake Lamb (2)
WP — Clayton Kershaw (6-2): 7⅔ IP, 5 “hits”, 2 runs (1 earned), 10 strikeouts
LP — Rowan Wick (1-5): ⅔ IP, 5 hits, 3 runs
Sv — Craig Kimbrel (15): 1 IP, 1 walk, 2 strikeouts
The Dodgers will go for the series and season sweep with Julio Urías on the mound on Sunday (1:10 p.m., SportsNet LA). Dodgers players will almost certainly know their All-Star fates before the game, but we’ll find out midway through, with the roster reveal starting at 2:30 p.m. PT on ESPN.