With three National League Cy Young Awards on his resume, Clayton Kershaw doesn’t need to measure his success with a radar gun.
But that doesn’t mean the Los Angeles Dodgers’ left-hander didn’t take note of hitting 94 mph in his last start, his best velocity in two years.
He’ll look for that velocity again Thursday when the Dodgers wrap up a two-game series in Seattle.
“(Velocity is) not everything, but I knew it was in there. I think that’s what was frustrating,” Kershaw told reporters recently. “The last couple of years, it’s been hard to figure out why it’s not coming out the way I wanted it to. Obviously, you still grind and try to make good starts.
“For whatever reason, we threw a lot of different things at it, and our strength and conditioning staff, training staff, offseason stuff — everybody did a great job with me trying to figure out what works, what doesn’t work. I can’t pinpoint one specific thing, but all the things that we tried, there’s a lot of things that have stuck. And it is gratifying, for sure.”
Kershaw (2-1, 2.65 ERA) allowed only one hit in seven innings, a solo homer by Anthony Rendon, in a 7-4 victory against the Los Angeles Angels last Friday in Anaheim, Calif.
That helped Kershaw rebound from his only loss of the season, in which he allowed three home runs.
“Everything (Friday) was crisper,” said Kershaw, who struck out six and induced a dozen ground-ball outs. “The slider for me is just huge. If I can throw that behind in the count for strikes, they can’t just sit on one pitch. A lot of ground balls and great defense.”
Cody Bellinger, who hit two home runs last Friday, was more impressed by Kershaw.
“Kershaw was Kershaw today,” Bellinger said. “I think we’re all adjusting to the short season, some more than others, like me, but I think eventually, we’re all going to be all right.”
Kershaw is 3-0 with 2.70 ERA in three career starts against the Mariners.
The Dodgers had a seven-game winning streak snapped Wednesday with a 6-4 loss to the Mariners at T-Mobile Park.
Max Muncy, Joc Pederson and Bellinger hit solo homers for Los Angeles.
The Dodgers loaded the bases with two outs in the ninth inning before Corey Seager struck out to end the game.
The Mariners, who snapped a seven-game losing streak Wednesday, plan to start left-hander Yusei Kikuchi (0-1, 5.28 ERA), who was scratched from his last scheduled start Friday in Houston with neck spasms less than an hour before the game’s first pitch. The Astros hammered emergency starter Nestor Cortes for eight runs (seven earned) in the first inning of an 11-1 game.
“It was bugging (Kikuchi) when he came in and tried to get some treatment on it,” Mariners manager Scott Servais said. “He went into the batting cage and tried to throw, and he just wasn’t going to be able to post. It’s a spasm thing in his neck, and I hope he’s able to maybe bounce back and we can slide him back into the rotation.”
–Field Level Media