What turned into a record-setting strikeout-fest began predictably enough, with Kershaw recording his fourth strikeout of the night to bring his career total to 2,000. He did it in 1,836 innings, becoming the third fastest ever to reach the mark by innings, behind Pedro Martinez (1,715 1/3) and Randy Johnson (1,734). Nolan Ryan is fourth (1,874).
Kershaw would go on to strike out 14 -- one shy of his single-game best -- over seven innings, but he got a no-decision in an unexpected lights-out duel against Milwaukee's Jimmy Nelson. Kershaw allowed only two hits, but Domingo Santana crushed one of them (Statcast™ projected it traveled 443 feet) for a home run after Kershaw had retired 20 consecutive batters.
"[Nelson] pitched better than I did, and it came down to that one pitch, and most of the time one pitch won't beat you, but tonight it did," Kershaw said.
With Kershaw cheerleading, Cody Bellinger homered in the 12th inning to give the Dodgers their first lead of the game, and closer Kenley Jansen picked up the unusual two-inning victory in relief.
"You can't say enough about Kenley being willing to go out in a non-save situation and to go a second inning. It's a testament to him and how important he is to our team."
The Dodgers not only are rewriting the book on starting rotation manipulation. Their bullpen is a throwback to days of multiple-inning relievers. In this one, Pedro Baez followed Kershaw with five strikeouts in two innings, Grant Dayton struck out the side in his inning and Jansen fanned four in his two frames.
Dodgers manager Dave Roberts raved about Kershaw, who set the tone with his impressive outing.
"He was unbelievable," Roberts said. "I don't know what else to say. He had command of everything he got moving toward home plate. Went to the curve early, the arm-side fastball and that was wide open. The slider was good, the 14 punch-outs in seven innings. It was a joy to watch."
Kershaw reached the 2,000 strikeouts in his 277th career game and 275th start, trailing only Johnson, who made it in his 262nd game. Catcher Yasmani Grandal flipped the ball into the Dodgers dugout to save for Kershaw, who had it in a plastic bag in his locker.
"It'll be cool someday," he said. "I guess when you retire you look back on that stuff. I don't take it for granted by also don't think about it."
His wife, Ellen Kershaw @ellenkershaw, offered this tweet: