TORONTO – Watching a Clayton Kershaw outing has the feel of firing up your Playstation and popping in the latest version of MLB The Show. That’s how outrageous the numbers get at times.
The Los Angeles ace was hardly untouchable Saturday in Rogers Centre, as the eight hits he gave up were the second-most the left-hander has allowed this season. But he posted yet another 10-strikeout performance and didn’t issue a walk as the Dodgers breezed to a 6-2 win over the Toronto Blue Jays.
Kershaw (4-1, 2.04 ERA) needed 112 pitches to get through seven innings as the Toronto lineup worked some counts on him and wasn’t blown away by too many fastballs. But once the Dodgers snapped a 1-1 tie with a three-run third, this one was pretty much in the bag.
Kershaw was coming off a shutout last Sunday against San Diego, a game that saw him strike out 14 men without a walk. Most pitchers would love to “struggle” as he did Saturday with 10 Ks and no walks. But that’s really how he felt.
“They’re a great team with a lot of guys who not only have talent but were really grinding at-bats,” Kershaw said of the Blue Jays. “They were fouling a lot of pitches off today and the pitch count got up there pretty quickly.”
“We get spoiled with what he can do and with the domination,” said manager Dave Roberts. “He is human and doesn’t feel the best every time he takes the mound and today was one of those days. But he still managed 10 punchouts, seven innings. Their lineup is relentless.”
Kershaw’s numbers continue to rate as patently ridiculous:
• He has 64 strikeouts and three walks in 53 innings, leading the majors in both strikeouts and innings. Kershaw’s strikeout to walk ratio stands at an astonishing 21.33 – and no pitcher has ever put together a full season at more than 12.
• Kershaw’s last four outings have seen him strike out 10, 10, 14 and 10 while walking just one. The totals are 44 strikeouts and one walk in 31 innings. He has 34 strikeouts since his last walk, which came April 21 at Atlanta.
• Kershaw is 2-1 in four road starts this year with a 1.50 ERA, 34 strikeouts and three walks. At home he has 30 strikeouts and has not walked a batter in 23 innings.
Kershaw’s fastball command wasn’t as sharp as normal, with some leaking over the plate farther than he wanted. It forced him to turn to his slider as an out pitch.
“Some of them, maybe they thought they were changeups because they weren’t really doing anything,” Kershaw said. “It was almost kind of straight. But I got some swings and misses at bad sliders thankfully and threw some good ones in there too every once in a while. It was a weird day for me overall but I’ll take it.”
“As the game went on, he kicked it in and really dominated,” said Blue Jays manager John Gibbons. “We battled him early and then he found it like a lot of the great ones do.”
The game marked Kershaw’s first career appearance at the Blue Jays. So he said he was trying to quickly acclimate to a new dome, a new team, and mostly new opponents. Shortstop Troy Tulowitzki was the only Toronto batter who had come to the plate at least 10 times against him.
“First time here, trying to figure that out,” Kershaw said. “Facing a new team where I haven’t faced most of those guys. My stuff wasn’t great at times, it was OK at other times. It was kind of an in-and-out day.”
The sellout crowd of 47,156 was energized by Darwin Barney’s two-out RBI single in the second that forged a 1-1 tie but the buzz quickly went away. The Dodgers took the lead for good when Chase Utley scooted home on a passed ball charged to catcher Josh Thole while trying to corral an R.A. Dickey knuckleball. Originally ruled out, Utley was awarded the run on replay review.
One pitch later, Adrian Gonzalez lashed a two-run single to right-center off Dickey (1-4) and the Dodgers were in control. The Blue Jays fell to 16-16 as their four-game winning streak was snapped.
Meanwhile, The Dodgers are just 15-15 and only 3-8 in their last 11 games. Kershaw has two of the wins.
“Once you get one facet of the game going, the others go,” he said. “You hope it all clicks at once. We’ve had different facets going at different times and that’s how you get a .500 record. … This is kind of a typical good game for us. This is what it should look like. We need to start repeating this performance.”
The series wraps up today at 1:05 with Toronto’s Marco Estrada (1-2, 2.64) meeting Dodgers rookie Ross Stripling (0-2, 4.33).