Don't call it a comeback, he's been here for years, rockin' his peers and putting hitters in fear.
Yep, Clayton Kershaw let the world know that he was back Thursday night, with the same fervor that LL Cool J brought when mama told him to knock you out. Kershaw threw another shutout, taking a perfect game into the seventh inning, eventually giving up three hits and striking out 11 as his Los Angeles Dodgers beat the New York Mets by the count of 3-0.
Before you try to downplay Kershaw's performance — yes, we'll admit it was against the offense-challenged Mets, whose lineup was even more sad than usual. See: John Mayberry Jr. batting cleanup.
But this "Kershaw back" proclamation isn't just a one-game judgment. This was Kershaw's third straight outing in which he didn't allow a run, each of them with more than 10 Ks. Two were shutouts. The other was an eight-inning outing in which he allowed three hits and struck out 14. Let's cue up some trivia on that:
OK so @ClaytonKersh22 didn't throw a perfecto. He still made history. He's the 1st pitcher ever with 3 straight GS of 10+ K's, 0 BB & 0 runs
— Jayson Stark (@jaysonst) July 24, 2015
This puts Kershaw at 29 straight scoreless innings, not quite matching teammate Zack Greinke's current 43 2/3 inning streak, but those two combined? Wowzer. They've given up one run in July between the two of them. One!
In the end of June, when Kershaw had lost three straight starts, people wanted to know if the sky was falling on the reigning NL MVP. He looked mortal. But then his July went like this: 33 innings pitched, 0.27 ERA, 45 strikeouts against two walks. On June 27, he was 5-6 with a 3.20 ERA. Now he's 8-6 with a 2.51 ERA.
Dodgers manager Don Mattingly thinks Greinke's recent lights-out performances have helped Kershaw re-awaken his inner Cy Young. Via MLB.com's Ken Gurnick:
"Those two have been pretty special for a while," manager Don Mattingly said of Kershaw and Greinke. "It's been good for both of them. Zack has been so good and Clayton is so competitive, in a healthy way, to show how good he is. He didn't want to go by the wayside, and he's shown us what he can do, too."
Kershaw wasn't buying the competition angle.
"I don't compete against my teammates. It's hard enough to get guys out," he said. "Yeah, I try to copy Zack, the way he's throwing. I'm trying not to lower the bar."
And in the words of LL Cool J once again: Competition's payin' the price.
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