The Dodgers resumed play on Thursday and Clayton Kershaw resumed beating the Giants with a four-hitter for six innings in a seven-inning 7-0 win in the first game of a doubleheader at Oracle Park.
Kershaw, one of the leading voices in the club’s decision not to play on Wednesday night to protest social injustice, struck out four without a walk. He’s 4-1 with a 1.80 ERA this year and 24-13 in 51 games (49 starts) in his career against the Giants, whose win streak was stopped at seven.
Kershaw also now has the best career winning percentage in history for a left-hander at .698 (173-75, surpassing Whitey Ford), which he attributed to being on a perennial contender. Actually, he wasn’t that impressed with his outing, which followed an 11-strikeout win over Seattle.
“Today was a little bit of a grind,” said Kershaw, who conceded that the emotion of the past few days has been real. “More the way the ball came out, but there’s been a lot of stuff going on, too. There’s a lot of stuff going on more important than baseball that we’re working on. Having the start pushed back a day, not having a normal day before your start, that could have all contributed, for sure. But it was all worth it in the end and, thankfully, we got out with a win.”
Kershaw, an outspoken supporter of teammate Mookie Betts’ decision not to play on Wednesday, again complimented Betts for Thursday’s return.
“We’re kind of following his lead to kind of support him the best we can,” he said. “It’s been a difficult time, a tough time for him personally. The Black community, in general. We’re trying to figure out what that looks like. It’s new territory for us, we’re trying to figure it out as well. The decision to play today, potentially continue to use our platform to speak out on things that shouldn’t be happening. Support Mookie in that and support other Black baseball players and the Black community, I think, is important.
“Yesterday we made a statement that we were trying to make. It’s bigger than baseball, not about playing a game, it’s about making our voices heard about what’s going on. Supporting our teammates. As far as today goes, we all made the decision we were going to play.”
Kershaw said he’s aware that there are some critics on social media responding harshly to the players calling off games.
“I’m not one to look at the comments a lot for obvious reasons. It doesn’t always go well for me out there,” he said. “But I have seen some of the things being said. First and foremost, we’re just doing the right thing. We’re supporting Black players and the Black community and what they’re going through. If the roles were reversed and there was something difficult for me or one of my teammates, I would hope we’d have the full support of the team. It’s as simple as that. I said on the post, we’re supposed to love God and love others. That comes with the territory of supporting them, of loving them.”
Kershaw said it was decided late last night that the team would play the doubleheader. He said he “almost forgot” the rule change that shortened the game to seven innings.
“It’s a different animal,” he said. “It just puts a little more emphasis on zeros early in the game. You don’t want to put your team down. Sometimes, you give up a run early and it’s not a big deal, your team can come back, especially ours. But when you score that first run, it’s big to keep that lead as long as you can.”
The Dodgers scratched out a first-inning run off Logan Webb after a leadoff walk to Betts, then the outfield defense saved Kershaw with extra-base robbing catches in center on a long run by Cody Bellinger and in left on a dive by AJ Pollock.
“My defense was really good today,” said Kershaw. “Had Belli not made that unbelievable play, and the same with AJ out there in left. It kind of looks better than it was in the box score.”