Kershaw's 10-K gem powers Dodgers to 6th straight win

Veteran helps LA to series victory over Cubs, makes case to start All-Star Game

July 10th, 2022

LOS ANGELES – The buzz around Dodger Stadium is different when Clayton Kershaw takes the mound. He is the best left-handed pitcher of his generation and arguably the best in franchise history. His No. 22 will hang in left field among the retired numbers following his eventual Hall of Fame induction.

Until then, Kershaw wowed the Dodger Stadium crowd for the 199th time in his career during the regular season, and he did it in style. Kershaw allowed two runs (one earned) and struck out 10 over a season-high 7 2/3 innings in the Dodgers’ 4-2 win over the Cubs on Saturday night.

“He’s always intense and focused, but tonight there was a different type of edge to him -- and a good edge,” said Dodgers manager Dave Roberts. “It was just an overall great performance. We didn’t play great defense behind him, but it didn’t affect him.”

From the onset it was clear the Kershaw had his best stuff. He struck out the side in the first, needing just 15 pitches. He then went on to retire eight of the next nine batters he faced. Seiya Suzuki, who singled to open the second inning, was erased on an Ian Happ inning-ending double play.

Kershaw was also as efficient as he’s been all season. He jumped out with a first-pitch strike in each of the first nine at-bats of the game. His four-seamer and sliders were working in tandem, helping him record 17 swings-and-misses. His signature curveball was also in top form. In the fourth, Kershaw got some oohs and ahhs from the crowd as he got Patrick Wisdom looking on a curveball to end the inning.

“I’m just grateful he’s healthy,” Roberts said. “He’s done a lot to make sure he stays on the field. When he’s healthy, he’s an All-Star. He’s one of the best in baseball. He’s efficient. He commands the baseball. He can limit damage. He’s prepared. … That’s why I’m just grateful that he’s feeling good and obviously the performance echoes that.”

Over the last week, Kershaw’s name has been at the forefront of All-Star conversation. He only has 63 2/3 innings after missing a month with a back injury, but his 2.40 ERA could be enough for him to be named to the National League squad on Sunday.

“Hopefully he gets in there because he deserves it,” said Dodgers first baseman Freddie Freeman, who delivered the go-ahead two-run single in the seventh. “He’s been a special pitcher for [15] years now and I’m just happy to be his teammate now. He should be able to pitch in his home stadium. He’s been pitching like an All-Star this year.”

If Kershaw indeed gets voted in, he’ll be in consideration to start the All-Star Game. One thing missing from his illustrious career is being able to say he started a Midsummer Classic. With the game being in Los Angeles for the first time in 42 years, Braves manager Brian Snitker has a chance to allow Kershaw to finally check off that honor.

“I’ve said it’s a huge honor and it would be very special,” Kershaw said. “But I don’t want it to be one of those things where I’m taking a spot or taking something from somebody that’s more deserving than me. Thankfully I don’t have to make that call, somebody will do it. I would love to do it but at the same time I get it, there’s a lot of guys pitching well.”

Dodgers right-hander Tony Gonsolin, Marlins righty Sandy Alcantara and Braves left-hander Max Fried are the three other pitchers that are in contention to start the game. By the numbers, Alcantara has had the best first half of the group.

But after another dominant performance, Kershaw showed that if he gets the nod for the All-Star Game start, it’ll be because he’s still one of the best pitchers in the Majors, and not just for the obvious sentimental value of having the legendary lefty get the ball inside the only stadium he’s called home in his big league career.

“I think it’s cool that people care,” Kershaw said. “It just goes to show I’ve been here a long time, which is special. I don’t take that for granted to be here for as long as I have. I know it means something to a whole lot of Dodger fans out there, which is cool. … Like I said, either way, I get it.”