Kershaw has an­other win in his grasp

Dodgers ace lim­its the An­gels to three hits and is first in ma­jors to reach 12 vic­to­ries.

Los Angeles Times - - SPORTS - By Bill Shaikin

The fourth in­ning had not gone well for Clay­ton Kershaw. His de­fense had be­trayed him, twice. Then his com­mand be­trayed him. A walk? Vir­tual heresy.

As his catcher tossed the ball back to the mound, Kershaw did some­thing few pitch­ers would con­sider, at risk of an er­ror or, more crit­i­cally, of jeop­ar­diz­ing their ca­reer. The An­gels had put two run­ners on base, for what would be the first of two times against him on this Thursday even­ing.

This could not con­tinue, would not con­tinue. The owner of the most valu­able left arm in base­ball reached out with that arm and caught the ball with his bare hand. Snapped at the ball, re­ally.

The best pitcher in base­ball had had enough.

In an on­line world where rank­ings and opin­ions are rapidly re­plac­ing ac­tual jour­nal­ism, there is an in­creas­ingly pop­u­lar par­lor game: Has Max Scherzer top­pled Kershaw as the game’s best pitcher?

No, as the An­gels would tell you. Kershaw struck out 12 in seven in­nings, scat­ter-

ing three hits with­out giv­ing up an earned run. The Dodgers thumped the An­gels, 6-2, at An­gel Sta­dium, and so the teams split the four-game Freeway Se­ries.

Kershaw was asked if he fol­lowed the sto­ries about whether he or Scherzer were bet­ter, and whether they mo­ti­vated him. “No,” Kershaw said. To both ques­tions? “Yes,” he said. The game got a lit­tle ex­cit­ing in the eighth, af­ter Kershaw’s de­par­ture, when the An­gels got the ty­ing run to the plate and Yunel Es­co­bar’s shouts af­ter get­ting hit by a pitch trig­gered a bench-clear­ing, well, dis­cus­sion. Ken­ley Jansen re­stored or­der with a four-out save, the eighth time this sea­son he has worked more than one in­ning for the save.

Es­co­bar de­clined to com­ment. Dodgers man­ager Dave Roberts said the in­ci­dent might have been trig­gered by an ear­lier stare-down be­tween Es­co­bar and Kershaw. Jansen said the whole bench­clear­ing the­ater is “stupid” in gen­eral. “If you want to go one on one, just go one on one,” Jansen said.

The name of the game is to win. Amid all the in­di­vid­ual sta­tis­tics, old school and new school alike, con­sider this: When Kershaw starts, the Dodgers are 15-2. When Scherzer starts, the Wash­ing­ton Na­tion­als are 10-6. (Yeah, the Na­tion­als’ bullpen, but still.)

Kershaw im­proved to 94-0 when the Dodgers score four or more runs for him. On Thursday, they scored five on home runs — a three-run homer from Joc Ped­er­son, and solo shots from Yasiel Puig and Chase Ut­ley.

The Dodgers set a fran­chise record for home runs in any month, with 50 in June. The San Fran­cisco Giants have hit 66 this sea­son.

Puig snapped a 1-1 tie in the fifth in­ning, with a long look at a long home run, then a dis­dain­ful cast­ing aside of his bat. Ut­ley home­red later in that in­ning and Ped­er­son fol­lowed in the next, mean­ing An­gels starter JC Ramirez had given up three homers within a span of eight bat­ters.

Kershaw be­came the first 12-game win­ner in the ma­jors; he’s on pace for a ca­reer-high 24 vic­to­ries.

Scherzer leads the Na­tional League with a 2.06 earned-run av­er­age; Kershaw is next at 2.32. Kershaw leads in in­nings, with Scherzer next. Scherzer leads in strike­outs, with Kershaw next.

“I think, at the end of the year, our guy will be the best pitcher,” Roberts said.

Roberts had high praise for Scherzer, but noted be­fore the game that his ace is right there with Scherzer sta­tis­ti­cally, de­spite all those “What’s wrong with Kershaw?” sto­ries.

“I think that those two are in a class by them­selves. That’s No. 1,” Roberts said. “We haven’t seen the best of Clay­ton this year. For him to still pitch the way he has, with­out in my opin­ion his best stuff, is very telling.

“I think it’s in there. There’s starts where the fast­ball com­mand is ex­actly on point, and there’s other days where the curve ball and the fast­ball are right but the slider is not there. There’s other days where the slider is very good but the fast­ball com­mand is spotty. Who he is, how he pre­pares, to ex­pect a run where things are all in sync, I don’t think that’s far­fetched. …”

On Thursday, Kershaw did his best work when he did all the work.

In the first in­ning, he struck out the side.

In the fourth, af­ter a bob­ble by left fielder Trayce Thomp­son and a wide throw by short­stop Corey Sea­ger en­abled the An­gels to score their first run, and af­ter the en­su­ing walk, Kershaw struck out the next two bat­ters to re­tire the side, the first of five con­sec­u­tive strike­outs. By the end of that roll, the best pitcher in base­ball had a fiverun lead.

“I won’t be the one to tell him not to grab the base­ball with his bare hand,” Roberts said, “but some­times you’d wish he’d use the glove.”

Luis Sinco Los An­ge­les Times

YASIEL PUIG rounds the bases af­ter his solo home in the fifth in­ning gave the Dodgers a 2-1 lead.

Luis Sinco Los An­ge­les Times

LO­GAN FORSYTHE of the Dodgers is safe as the throw to a leap­ing Danny Espinosa at sec­ond base is way off tar­get in the third in­ning.

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