LOS ANGELES -- Five Dodgers homered on Tuesday night, but that’s sort of routine lately. True milestones were reached by a pitcher who served up three homers and a slugger who didn’t hit any.
Future Hall of Famer Clayton Kershaw survived one of his worst starts in months to pass Dodgers legend Sandy Koufax in career victories, and National League MVP favorite Cody Bellinger reached the 100-RBI and 100-run marks for the first time in his career as the Dodgers demolished the Blue Jays, 16-3, in an Interleague series opener at Dodger Stadium
“I was pretty bad tonight, so thankful we scored so many runs,” said Kershaw, 13-2. “It’s special to watch. You just see it, every [opposing] pitcher has to grind through every single batter. Just no easy outs. Every out seems like it’s five or six pitches. Pitch counts are getting rung up. We’ve had to face more position players [pitching] than I’ve ever seen [including infielder Richard Urena in this game]. Just a testament to the guys in this clubhouse, everybody steps up.”
Kershaw found it ironic that he would pull ahead of Koufax on a night when he didn’t pitch like the Hall of Famer. He allowed three homers, as many as his previous eight starts combined, and two to rookie Bo Bichette. Kershaw made it through six innings, which he’s done in every start this year, but said he couldn’t blame manager Dave Roberts for removing him at that point.
“I didn’t earn it tonight. I wasn’t very good,” he said. “I felt really good in Miami [last week]. To come back here and feel really bad, it’s a humbling game. So back to the drawing board to get ready for the next one.”
Roberts said Kershaw “navigated” his way to minimize the damage, despite allowing the leadoff batter to reach base each of his six innings. Kershaw cited four double plays by the Dodgers’ defense that “bailed” him out, three of those hit into by Randal Grichuk.
“Some of that is good fortune. Take it when you get it, because sometimes you won’t get it,” Kershaw said. “Not a lot of good things pitching-wise.”
Maybe not on this night. But he has 166 career wins, three NL Cy Young Awards, an NL MVP, eight All-Star selections. Since Joe Torre first spoke their names in the same sentence when Kershaw was 19, he’s even outdoing Koufax, having become the winningest lefty in franchise history.
“What Sandy means to this organization and what he means to me personally, it’s an incredible thing, something I never thought would happen,” Kershaw said. “It’s not the most important thing in the world, but it’s something to look back on when all is said and done. It’s an honor, for me, to be mentioned in the same sentence as Sandy, I’ve said that many times. What he was able to accomplish in his career, and would have gone a lot longer if he played today because he could have gotten healthy.”
As for Bellinger, he went 2-for-3, becoming the first Dodger with 100 RBIs since Adrian Gonzalez in 2014 and the first Dodger to have his pants fall down while trying to stretch his three-run double into a triple. The smile on his face was not for the 100 RBIs.
“Definitely, the pants,” said Bellinger. “It was funny. Thankfully, I had sliders on. The belt didn’t break. My pants just fell down. I literally don’t know how.”