DENVER -- Rockies outfielder Charlie Blackmon was shocked to learn that he made esoteric stat history Saturday night.
The Dodgers' iconic left-hander Clayton Kershaw served up a hanging curveball that Blackmon knocked into the home bullpen for a two-run homer in the Rockies’ 5-3 victory. According to respected scouting and statistical service Inside Edge, it was the first time in Kershaw’s 332 regular-season pitching appearances (all but two of them starts) that a left-handed hitter had homered on his curveball.
“That’s interesting. … Are you sure?” said Blackmon, whose homer was his 19th of a season that should, when National League reserves are announced Sunday, result in his fourth All-Star Game appearance. “He doesn’t throw a lot of curveballs, so that’s part of it.
"I guess it doesn't count. You've gotta do it twice, or it doesn't count."
It was a shocker for Rockies manager Bud Black, also.
“No way. … Wow,” Black said. “I think it speaks volumes to both guys. Charlie was the one to finally do it. And for Clayton, to go this long, to not give up a homer to a lefty is so impressive. I would never have thought that. That just shows the quality of his curveball, for all of the years that he's been pitching. That's something.”
The only other homer by a lefty off Kershaw’s curve came in Game 4 of the 2014 National League Division Series, when Matt Adams deposited a three-run shot that clinched the series for the Cardinals.
So one can guess the homer bothered Kershaw, who tilted his head to the right and stared where the offending ball landed.
“The Blackmon homer was a tough pill to swallow,” Kershaw said. “It was just the wrong pitch; I shook to it and I take responsibility for that. It was the last thing [catcher Austin Barnes] called and I should have listened to him. I just felt confident about the curveball there, and I thought it was a decent one, and he hit it really well.”
Blackmon, who now has three career homers off Kershaw, had grounded out in the first inning. With two out and a 2-2 count, he wasn’t thinking of a home run, much less carving an odd place in history.
“I just shortened up, trying not to strike out,” Blackmon said. “I saw that one pretty good. I saw one earlier in the game that I did not see great. I put a good swing on it, got it with the barrel. I didn't crush it, but it was just enough."