There weren’t numerous strikeouts, whiffs or silly swings.
But in a scoreless seven-inning start on Saturday afternoon, Clayton Kershaw caused a lot of regular grounders, lazy pop-ups and, most notably, nos on the old manual center field scoreboard at Wrigley Field.
In the Dodgers’ 7-0 thrashing of the Chicago Cubs, Kershaw was effective, tossing simply 81 overall pitches and 58 for strikes.
He worked, quiting simply 5 hits and dealing with the minimum 3 batters 5 times.
And he made his 2nd scoreless trip of the season appearance strangely easy, reducing his season age to 1.80 on a day he had just 2 strikeouts however 18 at-bats of 4 pitches or less.
The last time Kershaw tossed 7 scoreless innings remained in his season launching last month, when he was pulled after 7 ideal innings and 13 strikeouts versus the Minnesota Twins. That day, he appeared like his old self, controling players with a nearly untouchable slider and 19 swing-and-misses.
Saturday was various. Even with a fastball that balanced hardly 90 miles per hour and a slider that caused just 6 whiffs on 27 swings (he had 8 swings-and-misses total), the three-time Cy Young Award winner continued his motivating start to the season, missing out on barrels and offering his defense the possibility to transform outs versus the Cubs aggressive lineup.
“Sometimes it’s better to be lucky than good,” Kershaw stated. “Those first couple of innings, they hit a lot of balls hard right at guys. The wind was swirling, pushing the ball in a little bit … Sometimes that happens and you gotta take it.”
Kershaw threw just 13 pitches in the first, ending the inning with a pickoff of Seiya Suzuki. He benefited from a baserunning gaffe in a six-pitch second inning, when Nico Hoerner was tagged out casually walking to second base after mistakenly thinking an errant throw to first had gone out of play.
The left-hander faced the minimum again in the third, getting his first strikeout by fanning Jonathan Villar with a slider; then once more in the fourth, when Wilson Contreras was frozen by a two-strike fastball and Yan Gomes hit into an inning-ending double-play.
Kershaw didn’t record another strikeout the rest of the afternoon. But he didn’t need to. Instead, the Cubs kept on making mostly harmless contact, and often doing it early in counts.
“[Teams are] always aggressive against Kersh,” catcher Austin Barnes stated. “They don’t want him to get ahead. And he’s so good at getting strike one. So yeah, it’s definitely more aggressive than most pitchers. We kind of play a game plan for them a little bit.”
The Cubs struck a couple of deep fly balls early in the video game that got hung up in the wind. Patrick Wilson sent out a drive to the caution track in the seventh that Cody Bellinger captured at the wall.
Other than that, nevertheless, the Cubs barely threatened. Only in the seventh inning did they have a runner in scoring position, which hazard was fittingly retired with a first-pitch groundout by Hoerner for the 3rd out.
“He’s just got a good feel for pitching,” Barnes stated. “He knows how to navigate through a lineup pretty well. He feels the game out.”
Barnes led the Dodgers’ attack at the plate, striking a crowning achievement in the 4th inning and a two-run single in the 8th.
Freddie Freeman had 3 doubles, consisting of a very first inning line drive that caused a follow a toss deflected off a moving Freeman at 2nd base.
Trea Turner likewise had a couple hits and an RBI. Justin Turner added a two-run double with his hardest-hit ball of the season, also.
Most notably, the Dodgers had the ability to rest the majority of their bullpen ahead of Saturday’s nightcap — with Kershaw’s 7 nothing innings mostly to thank.
“You try to go as long as you can, no matter what,” Kershaw stated. “But certainly, it’s a bit more vital with the doubleheader. So glad to survive 7 there. I believe we’re established well for the next one.”
This story initially appeared in Los Angeles Times.