Starting pitcher for the Los Angeles Dodgers, Clayton Kershaw acknowledges the crowd as he leaves the field after the eighth inning at Angel Stadium.

Clayton Kershaw flirts with perfect game as All-Star assignment awaits

ANAHEIM, Calif. — In his 15 well-decorated years in the major leagues, there have been nights when Clayton Kershaw has been more impressive.

There have been nights when he was near the Los Angeles Dodgers, and he figuratively carried them on his back and wished them victory.

Yet by Friday night at Angel Stadium, a thunderous crowd urging him, Kershaw came so close to perfection.

At 34, topping 92 mph with his fastball but his command impeccable, Kershaw took a perfect eighth inning game, just six out of the first perfecto of his career and in major league history. Just ranked 24th. The record books won’t be disrupted this evening: Luis Rengifo led the eighth inning by adding a slider to left field for Kershaw’s only fault in the evening.

Still closed the Los Angeles Angels in a 9–1 victory before 44,648 fans, who roared a little louder with every clean inning, and through their works Chavez turned a road ballpark in Ravine South, Kershaw, But everyone demanded the ball start in Tuesday’s All-Star Game at Dodger Stadium.

Starting pitcher for the Los Angeles Dodgers, Clayton Kershaw acknowledges the crowd as he leaves the field after the eighth inning at Angel Stadium.

Starting pitcher for the Los Angeles Dodgers, Clayton Kershaw acknowledges the crowd as he leaves the field after the eighth inning at Angel Stadium.

His words were less stringent: Kershaw said there were pitchers with better resumes who “deserved more than me”, and he was more than happy to attend his home ballpark.

Yet Friday was more proof that Miami’s Sandy Alcantara (12 strikes in eight innings on Friday) or Atlanta’s Max Fried (2.56 ERA in 40⅔ more innings than Kershaw) might have a more compelling case, with Kershaw being one such case. Introducing what emerges from the record books.

“It’s a unique resume,” says Dodgers manager Dave Roberts. “It’s a generation pitcher.”

In flirting with the second perfect game in Dodgers history and for the first time since 1965, when his fellow veteran lefty and mentor Sandy Cofax pulled it off, Kershaw displayed a display of smarts and command that made him a three-time Cy Young Award winner and now also made a major. force, even though the crack disappeared from a fastball that touched more regularly in the mid-90s.

He dismissed just six batsmen but did not run any before departing after retiring from the team in the eighth. He became the first pitcher since 1961 to take a perfect game twice in the same season through seven innings; He set 21 Minnesota Twins down the order in his first start of the season in April, but Roberts withdrew from a 99-day lockout with the major leagues and Kershaw with an elbow injury that kept him away from the 2021 postseason, picked him up. before the eighth.

There were no such concerns on Friday.

With one Angels legend, Shohei Ohtani, in the lineup and another, Mike Trout, sidelined with a back spasm, an Angels lineup consisted of four hitters at bat. 239 or less was no match for the Kershaw. He needed just 59 pitches to navigate six innings, dotting corners with his fastball, eliminating six swings and misses from his slider through five innings and occasionally fooling the Angels. .

Kershaw was bidding for Major League Baseball’s first perfect game since August 15, 2012, when Felix Hernandez of Seattle set the Tampa Bay Rays in the order, the third perfect of that season.

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Yet even though the art of hitting has historically evolved into poor league-wide batting averages, a full decade has passed since the last full game. Kershaw came about as about himself as you can: on June 18, 2014, Kershaw threw his only career no-hitter. He hit 15 Colorado Rockies, which is a record in a no-hitter, and remains the only pitcher to throw a no-hitter, strike 15 and run no one in the game. The only fault came when Henley Ramirez threw an error to take him to seventh.

On Friday, the tables were slightly bent. The Angels scorched seven hard-hitting balls—with exhaust velocities of 95 mph or more—against Kershaw. The lefty benefited from several dazzling defensive plays, most notably a wildly athletic giant dive and a throw from Justin Turner to rob leadoff hitter Michael Stefanik in the fourth inning. Hanser Alberto, deep in the shift, carried in a line drive.

In the bottom of the seventh, shortstop Tree Turner, as she is used to, made a smooth sliding grab and throw to retire Stefanik off a hard-hit ball in the middle. Ohtani, the great two-way player who entered the game with 19 home runs, was next.

Kershaw attacked, bowling four straight fastballs, knocking Ohtani to a 1–2 count and bringing many in the crowd to their feet in anticipation. Finally, he tosses a curveball in front of the plate. Ohtani ran away.

three strikes. And as an Angels Stadium crowd became accustomed to toasting Ohtani, Dodgers fans stormed into the thousands but surely some Angels supporters took the win from history.

“You really felt like the crowd wanted it for me,” Kershaw said, “which is good.”

After Rengifo’s solid double, Kershaw quietly retired from the side and was applauded by the crowd after finishing eighth, a night with Roberts saying he knew Kershaw “wanted it bad.” Still more history awaits.

The Dodgers are currently unbeaten, taking their 13th win in 15 games. They are just 2½ games behind the once indomitable Yankees for baseball’s best record. Two of his best players who are not All-Stars, catcher Will Smith and first baseman Freddie Freeman, cannot retire: Freeman extended a hot streak to 15 hits in 17 at-bats with a single in the first innings. Smith has singled, doubled, tripled and walked twice and has nine hits in his last 15 at-bats.

Once cursed, Kershaw should have an excellent shot at adding another World Series title to the crown claimed by the club in the 2020 playoff bubble. His back of the past, his fear of his elbow of 2021, joint swelling that cost him a month. This season – they are in the past for now and Kershaw’s ERA, now at 2.13, is the lowest since posting 1.69 points in 2016.

Maybe someone else will get All-Star approval. Kershaw put together a heavy resume on Friday night as 25 Up, 24 Down, so deftly reminded us.

“I know he hates the word vintage,” said Roberts, waiting a glass of red wine at his table, “but that was vintage.”

This article was originally published in ‘Vintage’ form for USA Today: Clayton Kershaw for Dodgers Against Angels

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