MINNEAPOLIS -- Dodgers left-hander Clayton Kershaw won't lie.
Kershaw would love a chance to start an All-Star Game. But he's not complaining that he has been bypassed for the second year in a row this year.
"That's not why we play this game," said Kershaw, who is joined on the National League All-Star team by Dodgers teammates Zack Greinke, Dee Gordon and Yasiel Puig. "This is game is not about winning a Cy Young Award or starting an All-Star Game.
"I'm not taking anything away from either of them. Would I like to start an All-Star Game? Of course. It would be great. But it's not what drives you."
Kershaw, a four-time All-Star, has the NL Cy Young Awards -- plural. He won the NL award in 2011 and '13, and finished second in '12.
Kershaw was considered a serious candidate for the All-Star start last year and this year, but did not get either nod.
A year ago, Kershaw was 8-6 at the All-Star break, but he had a 1.98 ERA and was a key factor in the Dodgers' turnaround that began in June. Mets right-hander Matt Harvey, however, was 7-2 with a 2.35 ERA in his first full season in the big leagues, and the game was being played at Citi Field, the Mets' home park.
"It was logical," Kershaw said of Harvey's selection.
This year, Kershaw is 11-2 with a 1.78 ERA. But then Cardinals right-hander Adam Wainwright is tied for the Major League lead with 12 wins, has a 1.83 ERA and is the ace of the defending NL champions, so it wasn't a shock when Cardinals manager Mike Matheny opted for Wainwright to have the start.
"You had to assume with Matheny being the manager, he was going to be the starter," Kershaw said of Wainwright. "With what he's done, it's not like he's getting a hometown discount. He deserves it. I can't make a bad case for Adam. Adam deserves it.
"If someone asked me if I wanted to start an All-Star Game, I'd say yes, but I completely understand. It is something that would be nice, but it is something you look back on after you are done and think about. It's not something that you focus on during the season. Right now, the focus is on wining every start and helping the Dodgers."
Kershaw has certainly done that. The Dodgers are in first place in the NL West, a game ahead of the Giants, with a 54-43 record. They were 17-15 when Kershaw was on the disabled list, and they are 37-28 when he has been active.
More telling, however, the Dodgers were 32-31 on the morning of June 8, 9 1/2 games behind the Giants. Since then, they are 22-12 and Kershaw is 7-0 with three complete games, including a no-hitter, and a 0.51 ERA.
Kershaw, however, isn't looking back. He knows there is a challenge remaining for the Dodgers to not only repeat as the NL West champions, but this time advance to the World Series. When regular-season play resumes on Friday, the Dodgers will embark on a stretch in which 29 of their first 32 games are against teams with winning records. The only exception is a three-game visit by the Cubs to Dodger Stadium from Aug. 1-3.
"It's going to tell us a lot about what will happen," said Kershaw.
And a lot of what the Dodgers do will hinge on the continuation of Kershaw and the right-handed Greinke to pitch at an elite level. The two have drawn comparisons to the great left-right combos like former Dodgers Sandy Koufax and Don Drysdale and former D-backs Randy Johnson and Curt Schilling.
"I don't know if you can put us in that category," said Greinke. "Those guys won World Series. We have to win a World Series. The two I'm familiar with are Schilling and Johnson. Those two single-handedly won the World Series [for Arizona in 2001]."
Johnson (3-0) and Schilling (1-0) were a combined 4-0 with a 1.40 ERA in the seven-game series against the Yankees. Johnson went seven innings to earn the win in Game 6 and then came on to get the final four outs for the win in Game 7, which Schilling started.
Greinke and Kershaw helped pitch the Dodgers into the postseason last year, but they were a combined 1-3 with a 2.86 ERA in seven starts, including the six-game loss to St. Louis in the NL Championship Series.
"Winning the World Series is what this game is about," said Greinke.
Kershaw certainly agrees.
Tracy Ringolsby is a columnist for MLB.com. Read his blog, Write 'em Cowboy.