Clayton Kershaw had just come off a hammering against the Colorado Rockies, giving away 9 runs in a messy spell of pitching. However, if you saw him on Friday night, you wouldn’t believe that the two were the same person. Kershaw not only made a turnaround, he matched Jake Peavy by pitching 7 scoreless innings to lead the Dodgers to win 1-0.
The Los Angeles Dodgers are now at 8-0 at home and are just one win away from matching the best start in the franchise history set way back in 1946 in Brooklyn.
The bullpen was looking dim as, during the game, Hong-Chih Kuo was pitching all over the place and was added to the disabled list again with another elbow injury. Yet, Kershaw pulled out all stops and led the Dodgers from the word go. “I loved it. He bit and scratched. The guy is going to be something special,” said manager Joe Torre. “After his last game, to come back with such tenacity. What he did tonight, and who he did it against, with Peavy at the top of his game, he gave us the opportunity to win this game.”
Torre had met with Kershaw earlier in San Francisco and had stressed on the fact that Kershaw should not let the game speed up. The key was to stick to what he knows and to what got him into the Majors in the first place.
“It was just another step for the youngster,” Torre said. “It seems so many pitchers, and not just young ones, go out, and if they don’t have their best stuff, they don’t know what to do. He settled in and found a way to get people out.”
“I don’t think there was one reason for a rough start like that,” Kershaw said. “But a lot of people have a tendency to try to change everything after something like that. Sometimes, you have to remember what you did to get here can get people out, too.” Kershaw just threw three changeups all night while his fastball hovered around the 94mph mark.
“The meeting, we just talked about throwing strikes, getting command of the fastball being the key. The fastball’s going to be my bread and butter. The fastball dictates the game for me. It’s what got me here to this point. Luckily, I also had a good feel for my curveball too.” Peavy had made things difficult for Kershaw after not letting away anything except two singles. The Dodgers struggled to get past first base and it finally happened in the moment that got them the win. The Padres, on the other hand, were threatening to score a number of times with runners in scoring positions in four of those scoreless innings.
Kershaw was done after 99 pitches by the 7th inning and Kuo was warming up as a replacement. However, the bullpen warm up saw him throw all over the place again, meaning that Kuo was out and Ronald Belisario was rushed in. The game ended with a frantic finish and will be one that will be remembered more for Kershaw’s pitching rather than the win.