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Clayton Kershaw’s 200th win looked a lot like so many others

Kershaw struck out 9 in his 200th career win

New York Mets v Los Angeles Dodgers Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images

This year’s Dodgers team hasn’t played like they are accustomed during the first three weeks of the season, falling short of even subdued standards to open 2023. But they still have Clayton Kershaw, who dominated the Mets in a 5-0 victory to earn the 200th win of his illustrious career.

Kershaw allowed only three hits in seven innings, striking out nine, both matching season highs for Dodgers pitchers this season.

He’s the 121st pitcher in major league history to win 200 games, and just the third Dodger to do so, joining Don Drysdale and Don Sutton.

Given how Kershaw pitched on Tuesday, it made the first play of the game even more hilarious in hindsight. Brandon Nimmo hit a ball that clanked off Jason Heyward’s glove in right field for a three-base error.

But with the run only 90 feet away and nobody out, Kershaw struck out Starling Marte and Francisco Lindor swinging on curveballs, then finished off Pete Alonso on a foul-tip strikeout on a fastball to escape the threat.

With Nimmo stranded at third base to end the first, the party was just starting for the Dodgers.

J.D. Martinez hit a two-run home run in the first inning, his first in 15 games, and added a solo shot in the third to provide the offensive support. Martinez had four hits and drove in four runs on the night.

Then Kershaw went to work.

While the slider wasn’t as effective in the first inning for Kershaw, he struck out five batters with the pitch after that, ending his night with a season-high nine strikeouts. Kershaw’s 19 swinging strikes were his most in a start since his seven perfect innings on April 13, 2022 in Minnesota.

Kershaw allowed an infield hit in the fourth, and then nothing else until the seventh, when Mark Canha won a 13-pitch battle with a single to right field with two outs. Jeff McNeil followed with a single to bring the tying run to the plate in a 3-0 game.

Tommy Pham ran the count full — he and Canha saw the only three-ball counts from Kershaw all night — before Kershaw finished him off with a slider, letting loose a triumphant scream coming off the mound.

Tuesday was the 61st time Clayton Kershaw pitched at least seven innings in a regular season game and allowed no runs.

Kershaw didn’t walk anyone either. This was his 11th career game with no walks, no runs allowed, and at least nine strikeouts, most in Dodgers history and tied with Max Scherzer for second-most in major league history, trailing only Randy Johnson, with 14 such starts.

With his nine strikeouts against the Mets, Kershaw reached 2,833 strikeouts in his career, with number 22 passing Mickey Lolich for 22nd place on the all-time list.

Kershaw now has 200 wins in his career and only 88 losses, just the sixth pitcher since 1900 to win their 200th game before losing 100 games. The other five are all in the Hall of Fame.

MLB pitchers with 200 wins before losing 100 games

Pitcher Date Record at 200th win Final record
Pitcher Date Record at 200th win Final record
Pete Alexander Aug 10, 1919 200-96 373-208
Lefty Grove Aug 8, 1934 200-83 300-141
Whitey Ford Apr 22, 1964 200-79 236-106
Juan Marichal Aug 28, 1970 200-97 243-142
Pedro Martinez Apr 17, 2006 200-84 219-100
Clayton Kershaw Apr 18, 2023 200-88 TBD
since 1900

Shortstop woes

With Chris Taylor already sidelined (though still active) after hurting his left side in Monday’s game, the Dodgers called up Luke Williams earlier Tuesday so they’d have someone to backup Miguel Rojas at shortstop. That opportunity came fast, when Williams pinch-hit for Rojas in the fifth inning.

In the second inning, Rojas took a 107.6-mph grounder from Mark Canha off his body, having to quickly lob the ball over to first as he recovered from the blow. Rojas remained in the game and played five innings before getting pinch-hit for. After the game, Dave Roberts said Rojas exited with a hamstring issue.

To throw another wrench into the proceedings, when Betts returns from his paternity leave on Wednesday, Roberts said the outfielder and occasional second baseman might even start at shortstop in the series finale.

Betts last played shortstop in a minor league game on July 6, 2012, for the short-season-A-ball Lowell Spinners in the New York-Penn League, four months shy of his 20th birthday. He also played two innings at the position in the Arizona Fall League in 2013.

Tuesday particulars

Home runs: J.D. Martinez 2 (3)

WP — Clayton Kershaw (3-1): 7 IP, 3 hits, 9 strikeouts

LP — Tylor Megill (3-1): 5 IP, 7 hits, 3 runs, 4 walks, 4 strikeouts

Up next

The Dodgers finish off the homestand with a day game on Wednesday (12:10 p.m., SportsNet LA), with former Met Noah Syndergaard starting for the Dodgers and former Dodger Max Scherzer starting for the Mets.