Clayton Kershaw silences the Chicago Cubs in the Dodgers 7-0 win
There weren’t many strikeouts, snorts, or silly swings.
But in a netless seven innings Saturday afternoon, Clayton Kershaw induced many routine grounders, lazy pop-ups, and most importantly zero on the old manual center court scoreboard at Wrigley Field.
He was effective, giving up five hits and tackling the minimum of three hitters five times.
And he made his second goalless outing of the season seem eerily simple, lowering his seasonal ERA to 1.80 on a day he had only two strikeouts but 18 at-bats of four shots or less.
The last time Kershaw pitched seven goalless innings in his seasonal debut last month when he was pulled back seven perfect innings and 13 strikeouts against the Minnesota Twins. That day, he looked like his old self, dominating the hitters with an almost untouchable slider and 19 swing-and-misses.
Saturday was different. Even with a fastball that averaged just 90 mph and a slider that induced just six puffs out of 27 swings (he had eight swings and misses in all), the three-time Cy Young Award winner continued to encourage his start. of the season, missing barrels and giving his defense a chance to convert outs against the aggressive lineup of the Cubs.
“Sometimes it’s better to be lucky than good,” Kershaw said. “Those first two innings, they hit a lot of balls right against the boys. The wind was swirling, pushing the ball a little. . . . Sometimes it happens and you have to take it. “
Kershaw only pitched 13 pitches in the first, finishing the innings with a Seiya Suzuki pickoff. He benefited from a basic running gaffe in a six-shot second inning when Nico Hoerner was tagged out as he casually walked to second base after mistakenly assuming a misspelled shot had gone offside.
The southpaw faced the low again in the third, getting his first strikeout by waving Jonathan Villar with a slider; then again in the fourth when Wilson Contreras was frozen by a two-stroke fastball and Yan Gomes scored a double play at the end of the inning.
Kershaw did not register another strikeout the rest of the afternoon. But he didn’t need it. Instead, the Cubs continued to make mostly harmless contacts, and often to do so early in the accounts.
“[Teams are] always aggressive against Kersh, “said receiver Austin Barnes.” They don’t want him to go on. And he’s so good at striking him. So yeah, he’s definitely more aggressive than most pitchers. In a way we play a little bit. to a game plan for them. “
The Cubs hit some deep volleyballs early in the game that got caught in the wind. Patrick Wisdom sent a drive to the warning track in the seventh spot that Cody Bellinger caught on the wall.
Aside from that, however, the Cubs hardly threatened. Only in the seventh inning did they have a runner in scoring position, and that threat was conveniently withdrawn with a groundout of Hoerner’s first pitch for the third out.
“It just has a good feel for the launch,” Barnes said. “He knows how to navigate through training pretty well. Hear the game outside. “
Barnes led the Dodgers’ attack on the pot, scoring a home run in the fourth inning and a two-run single in the eighth.
Freddie Freeman had three doubles, including a front-inning drive that resulted in a run after a deflected shot by a Freeman sliding into second base.
Trea Turner had two hits and an RBI. Justin Turner faced a two-run brace with his most hit ball of the season.
More importantly, the Dodgers were able to rest most of their bullpen before Saturday’s short, with Kershaw’s seven goalless innings largely to thank.
“Try to go as long as possible no matter what happens,” Kershaw said. “But of course it’s a little more important with the doubleheader. So grateful to get past seven there. I think we are well prepared for the next one. “