Dodger K’s are spe­cial in win

Kershaw reaches mile­stone, team sets record and Bellinger homer wins it.

Los Angeles Times - - SPORTS - By Andy McCul­lough

MIL­WAU­KEE — The me­mento rested in­side a Zi­ploc bag in Clay­ton Kershaw’s locker. Ink scrawled across the plas­tic de­noted the mile­stone, the 2,000th strike­out of Kershaw’s ca­reer, a keep­sake from a 2-1 Dodgers vic­tory over the Brew­ers. Drained af­ter log­ging seven in­nings in a game that lasted 12, Kershaw strug­gled to find the per­spec­tive for his achieve­ment.

“I don’t take it for granted,” Kershaw said. “But I also don’t think about it. I don’t know how to quan­tify it, I guess. It’ll be cool some day.”

His mile­stone un­der­scored the theme of the evening, a night of watching hit­ters flail and pitch­ers miss bats. Led by Kershaw’s sea­son-high 14 strike­outs, the Dodgers tied a ma­jor league record for one game with 26. Ken­ley Jansen set a ma­jor league record for strik­ing out 39 bat­ters to start a sea­son with­out al­low­ing a walk. And the two teams com­bined to tie a Na­tional League record with 42 strike­outs.

If you en­joy fail­ure, this was the game for you. But it looked like a night of bit­ter-

ness for the Dodgers (34-22) be­fore Yas­mani Gran­dal in­ter­vened in the ninth. A solo shot by Gran­dal took Kershaw off the hook for giv­ing up a homer to Domingo San­tana two in­nings ear­lier. Cody Bellinger re­cov­ered from a three-pun­chout night to sup­ply the win­ner in the 12th off Brew­ers re­liever Nef­tali Feliz.

Af­ter the game, Bellinger re­ceived a mes­sage from his fa­ther. Clay Bellinger hit 12 homers in parts of four sea­sons in the ma­jors. His son has matched his to­tal in 36 games. “He just said ‘Con­grats, it took me a lot longer,’ ” Bellinger said.

In­side the visi­tors club­house at Miller Park, the smiles were tinged with ex­haus­tion.

The game lasted three min­utes shy of four hours. Jansen logged two in­nings, hag­gling with man­ager Dave Roberts about re­turn­ing for the 12th af­ter Bellinger went deep. Roberts cred­ited Jansen for his un­selfish­ness, car­ing less about saves and more about keep­ing the team up­right.

The com­bi­na­tion of the bullpen and the late homers re­duced some of Kershaw’s frus­tra­tion for how his night ended. Save for one pitch to Brew­ers out­fielder San­tana, his out­ing was pris­tine. He recorded his 2,000th strike­out in the sec­ond in­ning. A 94-mph fast­ball soared up and away from Brew­ers sec­ond base­man Jonathan Vil­lar. The lo­ca­tion did not de­ter Vil­lar, who hacked and touched only the air. Gran­dal gave the baseball to a ball­boy, who handed it to an au­then­ti­ca­tor.

Kershaw did not cel­e­brate the achieve­ment. He grabbed an­other ball and re­turned to work. For much of the night, he op­er­ated like a man in a hurry to reach 3,000 strike­outs. “It was a joy to watch,” Roberts said.

Only 79 pitch­ers in the sport’s his­tory have ac­cu­mu­lated 2,000 strike­outs or more. Kershaw reached the mark in the third-fastest time, a span of 1,8372⁄3 in­nings. Only Pe­dro Martinez (1,7151⁄3 in­nings) and Randy John­son (1,734) got there faster. Kershaw’s team­mates still treat him with awe.

“I’m glad to be a part of a Hall of Fame ca­reer,” Jansen said. “I’m proud to see the best in the game, prob­a­bly the great­est in the game, right now. That was amaz­ing.”

The evening started with stress. On his first pitch of the game, a 93-mph fast­ball, Kershaw whipped his head around to watch a dou­ble by Brew­ers out­fielder Keon Brox­ton. Kershaw walked the next bat­ter, for­mer Korean Baseball Or­ga­ni­za­tion star Eric Thames, on a ques­tion­able full-count fast­ball. Then Kershaw fell be­hind in the count to first base­man Je­sus Aguilar.

A pair of slid­ers fooled Aguilar for a cru­cial strike­out. Af­ter a first-pitch popup, Kershaw fanned San­tana with a curve­ball to strand both run­ners. From there, he locked into a groove.

“He was un­be­liev­able,” Roberts said. “I don’t know what else to say. He was lights out. He had com­mand of ev­ery­thing.”

To open the sec­ond, Kershaw spot­ted an 0-2 fast­ball on the outer edge against catcher Manny Pina. He reached 2,000 in the next at­bat. In the third, he struck out the side in 12 pitches.

The dis­tance from the plate to the mound spans 60 feet and six inches. When Aguilar re­turned to bat in the fourth, Kershaw spiked a curve­ball that bounced af­ter only about 55 feet. Aguilar could not check his swing. The strike­out padded Kershaw’s re­sume should he ever tran­si­tion to cricket.

Kershaw racked up four more strike­outs, all look­ing, in the fourth, fifth and sixth. He had re­tired 20 bat­ters in a row when San­tana came up in the sev­enth.

Kershaw tried a 1-0 fast­ball. The pitch was sup­posed to cuff San­tana on the hands. It leaked a few inches away from its tar­get. San­tana scorched a drive over the fence in left.

Upon im­pact, Kershaw cov­ered his head with his hands and crum­pled into a crouch. His fury was pal­pa­ble. It would take a few in­nings, but his team­mates picked him up.

When Kershaw re­turned to his locker, the baseball from the 2,000th strike­out awaited him. He un­der­stood its im­por­tance, if he pre­ferred not to dwell on it.

“Def­i­nitely cool,” Kershaw said. “I’ll try to not for­get it and leave it in Mil­wau­kee.”

Tan­nen Maury Euro­pean Pressphoto Agency

CODY BELLINGER CIR­CLES the bases af­ter hit­ting a go-ahead home run in the top of the 12th in­ning. It was the 12th homer for Bellinger, who was named Na­tional League rookie of the month for May.

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