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A heady first half for surprising Wood

Los Angeles' left-hander improves to 10-0 with win
MLB.com @boomskie

LOS ANGELES -- With Dodgers star left-hander Clayton Kershaw out of next Tuesday's MLB All-Star Game presented by Mastercard at Marlins Park, the obvious replacement should be his teammate, Alex Wood.

As if he needed it, Wood made a final case for himself on Wednesday night at Dodger Stadium in a 1-0 victory over the D-backs by pitching seven scoreless innings, allowing three hits, walking two and striking out 10.

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LOS ANGELES -- With Dodgers star left-hander Clayton Kershaw out of next Tuesday's MLB All-Star Game presented by Mastercard at Marlins Park, the obvious replacement should be his teammate, Alex Wood.

As if he needed it, Wood made a final case for himself on Wednesday night at Dodger Stadium in a 1-0 victory over the D-backs by pitching seven scoreless innings, allowing three hits, walking two and striking out 10.

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He finished the first half with a gaudy 10-0 record and 1.67 ERA in 15 starts for by far the best run of his career, now in its fifth season. He's the first Dodgers pitcher to open 10-0 since Don Newcombe did it for the Brooklyn Dodgers to start the 1955 season.

Wood obviously passed the audition.

"He's passed [it] over the last couple of months, yes," Dodgers manager Dave Roberts said. "He's been like this since the first pitch he threw this season. I think right now he's looking at it like it's 'out of my hands.' Well done."

Wood, another left-hander, came out of nowhere to have this fantastic first half of the season, but was passed over by the players and National League manager Joe Maddon in the All-Star selection process.

Kershaw won't pitch for the NL because he's slated to start Sunday at Dodger Stadium against the Royals in the last game before the break. Based on the rules, he must be replaced on the roster by someone who can pitch in the All-Star Game.

Kershaw has a 13-2 record, 2.19 ERA and 146 strikeouts and 22 walks in a league-leading 123 1/3 innings.

Video: ARI@LAD: Wood strikes out 10 in dominant start

Aside from Wood, there's nobody else even close in the NL that's worthy of replacing Kershaw. Nationals left-hander Gio Gonzalez, at 7-3 with a 2.77 ERA, is Wood's closest competition. And Washington already has Max Scherzer and Stephen Strasburg on the NL staff.

Usually, those replacement announcements come after the games are played on Sunday and both Roberts and Wood said they didn't have a clue what might happen.

"Let's take it one day at a time," Wood said. "I mean, I would feel very happy if that happens, very humbled. It's something that you dream of as a kid. It's hard to even fathom still right now. We'll see what happens."

Considering Wood's recent injury-filled past, he really has come out of the woods to accomplish what he's doing.

Wood missed almost four months of the 2016 season after surgery to correct an impingement in his left elbow finally returning at the end of September. He was 1-4 with a 3.73 ERA and pitched only 60 1/3 innings in 14 appearances, 10 starts.

Even this year Wood had a stint on the disabled list with inflammation of the SC joint in his left shoulder and didn't make a start from May 26 to June 10.

Prior to this season, he had a 6-10 record and 4.06 ERA to show for his 26 appearances (22 starts) since the 2015 Non-Waiver Trade Deadline three-way trade that brought him to Los Angeles from Atlanta. He also walked 43 batters in 130 2/3 innings.

This year, Wood has walked 22 and struck out 97 in 80 2/3 innings.

"I think a lot of it is you see your teammate Clayton in the way he kind of goes at guys, prepares, pitches every game like it's conceivably his last," Roberts said. "I think that every time Alex takes the mound, he has that pitching with a purpose mentality, on every pitch. You feel really good when guys like that take the mound. When it does get a little hot, he makes pitches when he needs to."

Video: ARI@LAD: Wood K's Drury, strands a pair of runners

Wood, 26, seemed a bit bemused by all the comparisons. Newcombe, Kershaw, that's quite a bit for one night. An All-Star? That's pretty much taking it over the edge.

But the D-backs had to face both Dodgers left-handers, who combined to allow no runs on just five hits, with four walks and 21 strikeouts. The Dodgers won both games by a single run.

Kershaw had a no-hitter heading into the seventh and wound up allowing no runs on two hits with two walks and 11 whiffs.

How's that for back-to-back dominance?

The comparison to Kershaw made Wood giggle.

"It's hard not to notice his work ethic and tenacity even if you're pretty blind to some things," Wood said. "He's special. To be mentioned in the same breath with him is pretty cool."

About the 91-year-old Newcombe, whose 10-game winning streak in 1955 came to an end in his 12th start, Wood was equally as contrite.

"I did not know that," Wood said. "I'm sure I'll see him before the break. It'll be cool to be mentioned with him, too."

Barry M. Bloom is a national reporter for MLB.com and writes an MLBlog, Boomskie on Baseball. Follow @boomskie on Twitter.

Los Angeles Dodgers, Alex Wood