We can quantify the utter dominance of Clayton Kershaw this season a number of ways — the 17-3 record, the 1.70 ERA or even that 41-inning scoreless streak he rode for nearly a month this summer.
But here's one factoid that's even more mind-blowing than the other stats: Until Tuesday night, when Bryce Harper homered off him in the seventh inning, Kershaw hadn't allowed an RBI to a left-handed batter all season. All season. It's September.
It was the first left-handed homer against Kershaw in almost a year. Jay Bruce hit one Sept. 8 of last season. Harper's homer was also the lone burst of offensive that the Washington Nationals could muster against Kershaw. The Dodgers won 4-1 as Kershaw struck out eight and allowed just three hits in eight innings. At one point, he retired 12 straight batters.
After the game, Harper was happy to have gotten the best of Kershaw in that one at-bat, but he knew very well it wasn't the norm. Via Adam Kilgore at the Washington Post:
“To hit a homer against a Cy Young guy, of course, that’s pretty awesome,” Harper said. “But I think in my career I’m like 1 for 9 with six strikeouts. He’s winning the battle right now. You just got to tip your cap to a guy like that. To be able to hit a homer against him is pretty fun.”
Opponents are hitting only .191 against Kershaw this season overall, but left-handers are almost 20 points worse at .174. Kershaw has allowed nine homers total and 32 earned runs, but only the tiniest sliver of that belongs to left-handed hitters. That fact amazed even the great Vin Scully:
In elevator post game Vin Scully told us Harper was 1st lefty homer & rbi Kershaw had given up all season. Even Vin looked surprised
— Beto Duran (@DuranSports) September 3, 2014
Is it any wonder that one oddsmaker has taken Kershaw's Cy Young odds off the board? It's a given at this point. And he's looking pretty good for the NL MVP too. It would make Kershaw the fifth pitcher to win the MVP since 1984, but the first in the NL since Bob Gibson in 1968.
BLS H/N: @djshort
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