L.A. 4, Detroit 0: Dodgers' Clayton Kershaw blanks Tigers
LOS ANGELES — Clayton Kershaw looked loose and limber all night. But in the parlance of Matthew Stafford’s sport, he stiff-armed the Tigers.
Clayton Kershaw throws against the Tigers. Kershaw allowed only two hits and struck out 11. / Stephen Dunn / Getty Images
The Dodgers left-hander blanked the Tigers on two hits, 4-0, on Monday night at Dodger Stadium.
Kershaw and Stafford were born about a month apart in the first part of 1988. They became friends when they were in second grade. They attended Highland Park High in Dallas.
This marked the first time Kershaw had faced Detroit since the Lions drafted Stafford out of Georgia in 2009. It wasn’t impossible they could have been professional teammates.
“Matthew was a great baseball player,” Kershaw said. “He quit after our sophomore year of high school to focus on football. He definitely had great hands for a shortstop. He definitely could have played baseball in college and maybe farther.”
Did Stafford ever make a great play behind Kershaw?
“All the time,” Kershaw said. “He used to catch me a little bit before high school. And obviously, he has a great arm.”
Kershaw didn’t require any brilliant fielding behind him Monday night. He was in total command.
Tigers manager Jim Leyland sounded the way opposing managers do after Justin Verlander dominates them.
“That’s as fine of a pitcher as I’ve seen pitch against us all year,” Leyland said. “You can’t be mad about a game like this. The guy was just dominant: throwing hard, good off-speed, good command. You can’t pitch any better than that.”
The Tigers couldn’t use the line from another Lions quarterback of note, Bobby Layne: “I never lost a game. I just ran out of time.”
All they ran out of was runners.
The final runner Kershaw allowed came on a walk with two out in the fifth. He retired the side in order in the final four innings. He struck out the side in the ninth.
“We could have played another three or four innings, and we weren’t going to hit that guy,” Leyland said.
Kershaw has often been dominant in his developing career. This was his second two-hit shutout of the season.
Kershaw might have had a big early lead if centerfielder Austin Jackson hadn’t rescued starter Brad Penny from what was becoming a stormy first inning.
With one out, Juan Uribe drove a full-count pitch into the leftfield stands for a 1-0 lead. Andre Ethier smacked the next pitch up the middle. It deflected off Penny’s right foot and into left for a hit.
Up came Matt Kemp, tied for the NL lead in homers with 20. He hit a drive to the wall in deep right-center. Jackson got back in time, leaped and caught it.
If Jackson hadn’t caught it, the ball might have cleared the wall, and Kemp would have had his 21st homer. That would have tied him for the major-league lead with, among others, the Yankees’ Curtis Granderson.
So the present-day Tigers centerfielder just might have prevented the Dodgers’ centerfielder from catching the former Tigers centerfielder for the major-league lead in homers.
Penny then ended the inning by getting James Loney to ground out. He threw a 1-2-3 second.
Kershaw started off like Al Alburquerque — two strikeouts per inning. He got Casper Wells and Magglio Ordoñez in the first, and Miguel Cabrera and Jhonny Peralta in the second.
Ryan Raburn became the Tigers’ first baserunner when he laced a double down the leftfield line to start the third. He went to third on Danny Worth’s groundout for the first out.
Penny struck out swinging. Then, with Jackson batting, catcher Dioner Navarro picked off Raburn.
Casper Wells singled with one out in the fourth — the Tigers’ final hit, it turned out — and went to second on Magglio Ordoñez’s slow grounder to second. With Victor Martinez on deck, Dodgers manager Don Mattingly opted not to give Cabrera an intentional walk. Cabrera ripped fouls down each line, then grounded to short for the final out.
The Tigers never had another at-bat with a runner in scoring position.
PENNY SCARE: Penny caught a spike in the dirt as he tried to leave the batter’s box on a sixth-inning grounder.Read more.