Fortunately for the Los Angeles Dodgers’ left-hander, he was quite fresh after throwing only 57 pitches his last time out.
Kershaw bounced back from the shortest start of his brief career with eight innings of two-hit ball, leading the Dodgers to a 2-0 victory over Ubaldo Jimenez(notes) and the Colorado Rockies on Sunday.
“Jimenez is probably one of the best arms in the game right now, if not the best. So after what I did my last start I had, I needed to have a good one,” the 22-year-old Kershaw said. “You can’t give that team any runs with him pitching, so I knew I had to put some zeros up there.”
Last Tuesday, Kershaw retired only four of the 13 batters he faced, lasted just 1 1-3 innings against the Milwaukee Brewers and was charged with seven runs during a nine-run second.
“We know what happened last time. But every time he goes out there, you know he’s capable,” manager Joe Torre said. “I went to congratulate him after the eighth inning and he said: ‘I have one more in me.’ I said ‘I’m sure you do. Nice going.’ The kid’s special. The indication of that is how he rebounds from disaster, so to speak.”
Kershaw (2-2) held the Rockies to a pair of infield hits—including a bunt single by cleanup hitter Troy Tulowitzki(notes)—and picked off Eric Young after walking him with two out in the fifth. He needed 30 pitches to get out of a scoreless first, which ended when Ian Stewart(notes) took a called third strike on a borderline fastball on the inside corner with the bases loaded.
“Anytime you have Kershaw on the hook and have guys on base, you want to make the most of it because his stuff is so good,” Tulowitzki said. “After that, we didn’t really threaten at all against him. When he’s throwing strikes he’s tough to hit.”
“He doesn’t strike out a lot, so it was just an off-day for him,” Kershaw said. “He’s a Hall of Fame hitter and he’s been one of the best for a long time. But it’s the same with every hitter. If you get ahead of him, he’s got to hit your pitch.”
Helton, who turns 37 in August, has yet to hit a home run after 27 games and 100 at-bats—his longest homerless drought from the start of a season. His previous longest was in 1998, his first full year in the big leagues, when he came up empty in his first 98 at-bats and still finished with 25 homers.
“His swing is a little bit off right now and his timing’s off,” hitting coach Don Baylor said. “When you get to a certain age and you go through a drought like this, all of a sudden you’re kind of doubting yourself a little bit. It’s only human. He’s hit some balls good in our ballpark that didn’t go out. And that’s part of the problem, mentally, that he doesn’t have any home runs. But once he gets that first one, things will change.”
Jimenez (6-1) gave up only two hits over seven innings before he was lifted for a pinch-hitter. The only run against the Colorado starter came in the third, when Blake DeWitt(notes) led off with a double and scored on a ground single by Jamey Carroll(notes) that deflected off Jimenez’s glove and into right field.
Jimenez walked four and struck out five, including major league batting leader Andre Ethier(notes) his first three times up. The right-hander, whose ERA actually increased to 0.93, was trying to become the first Rockies pitcher to get off to a 7-0 start.
Tulowitzki left the game in the bottom of the fifth with a right quad strain after hurting himself taking a throw from Jimenez on a fielder’s choice comebacker by Carroll and trying to complete a double play.
NOTES: Reliever Gabe White is the only other pitcher in the Rockies’ 18-year history to win his first six decisions in a season, finishing the 2000 campaign with an 11-2 record. … Colorado RF and RBI leader Carlos Gonzalez(notes) returned to his native Venezuela for the funeral of his uncle. … Jimenez, who pitched the first no-hitter Rockies history on April 17 at Atlanta, has thrown 48 1-3 innings this season without allowing a home run. Last year he opened the season with a homerless streak of 42 1-3 innings, which was snapped by Pittsburgh’s Nate McLouth(notes).