Kershaw 3rd youngest to 2,500 K's in gem

September 4th, 2020

There’s little doubt the Hall of Fame will come calling for .

As is customary, the game’s chroniclers in Cooperstown reach out to a player for a game-used jersey or hat or cleats when history is made.

On Thursday night, Kershaw added to his growing collection at the New York museum in a 5-1 victory over the D-backs when he struck out Nick Ahmed for the first out of the 2nd inning to become the third-youngest pitcher in MLB history to strike out 2,500 batters. Only Hall of Famers Nolan Ryan (31 years, 101 days) and Walter Johnson (31 years, 197 days) accomplished the feat at a younger age.

Kershaw (32 years, 168 days) passed Hall of Famer Pedro Martinez, who did it at 32 years, 221 days. He is the fifth pitcher to reach 2,500 career strikeouts by his age-32 season behind Ryan, Johnson, Martinez and Hall of Famer Tom Seaver, who did it at 32 years, 287 days.

“I don't ever want to discredit any of the stuff that's happening because it is cool. It really is,” Kershaw said. “It's just hard for me to think about it, honestly, or wrap my head around being associated with names like that and getting to see your name on different types of leaderboards. It's just hard to grasp really.”

He joined a list of first-ballot Hall of Famers and will one day get “the call” of his own. But in the meantime, there is still plenty of work to do and that was evident Thursday. 

Kershaw was sharp and kept the D-backs off balance with a steady stream of fastballs and breaking balls all night. He was dominant at times and did not allow a hit for 5 2/3 innings until Christian Walker reached on an infield single. In the end, Kershaw struck out eight and moved into the 39th spot on the all-time strikeouts list with 2,505, according to Elias.

He departed the game with a 2-0 lead after six innings on a memorable night in Los Angeles. Kershaw reached the 2,500-strikeout mark in his 353rd career game, behind only Randy Johnson (313), Ryan (338) and Max Scherzer (344). The tall Texan struck out Kole Calhoun swinging and Walker looking in the first inning for the 2,498th and 2,499th strikeouts of his career.

“It's obviously a huge honor and I'm thankful that I've been able to be here long enough to do it,” Kershaw said. “And hopefully, I can keep going.”

Kershaw had help. The Dodgers tacked on two runs in the seventh and another run in the eighth to extend the lead. The victory was the club’s fifth in a row and 10th in a row at home. The Dodgers have won 18 of their last 21 games.

“We're doing it in all sorts of different ways, which is really cool,” Kershaw said. “I mean you saw last night when we just grinded it out until the very end, getting some big hits. Tonight was kind of the same deal kind. We were just waiting for that breakout there in the later innings, so, it’s a lot of guys stepping up.”

It’s already been quite a year for the veteran left-hander. He is 5-1 with a 1.50 ERA with 41 strikeouts in six starts this season. The win was the 174th of his career and he is closing in on the fourth spot in that category. Only Don Sutton (233), Don Drysdale (209), Dazzy Vance (190) and Brickyard Kennedy (177) have more wins in franchise history.

“I can't say enough about him,” Dodgers manager Dave Roberts said. “I think that he's just very good at staying in the moment and focusing on the next pitch. He’s probably already thinking [about] tomorrow and his workday. It’s quite an accomplishment to be in that elite company and he's only going to continue to work his way up the list. I’m really excited for him.”