LOS ANGELES -– Clayton Kershaw is probably No. 1 on the list of pitchers about whom you would say, "It’s only a matter of time before he throws a no-hitter."
You can’t say that anymore.
Kershaw became the second major league pitcher -– and the second Dodger –- to no-hit a team this season with a masterpiece against the Colorado Rockies at Dodger Stadium on Wednesday night. A Hanley Ramirez throwing error to lead off the seventh inning cost Kershaw the perfect game, which would have been the first by a Dodgers pitcher since Sandy Koufax’s in 1965.
After striking out Corey Dickerson to end the game, Kershaw dropped his glove and thrust his hands straight in the air as his teammates sprinted in from all corners, chucking their gloves all over the field. Kershaw wrapped catcher A.J. Ellis, his best friend on the team, in a bear hug near the mound.
"I'm so amazed. [Josh] Beckett told me he was going to teach me how to do that, so I've got Josh to thank," Kershaw said. "We just kept scoring so many runs, I just didn't want to screw that up."
Kershaw’s curveball was so devastating, he was striking Rockies out routinely with it in the latter innings. His 15 strikeouts were a career high.
Beckett no-hit the Philadelphia Phillies on May 25, so the Dodgers have the only two no-hitters in the majors so far this season.
How it happened: It’s amazing Kershaw could stay in rhythm with how long he had to sit on the bench in the middle innings. Jorge De La Rosa is a slow worker to begin with and the Dodgers worked five walks off him. They scored five times with two outs in the third, the big blow being Miguel Rojas’ double off the left-field wall. It felt as though every Kershaw inning lasted five minutes and every Colorado inning lasted 45.
Kershaw even made the last out of the third, grounding to shortstop, but jogged back to the dugout and came right back out and buzzed through the top three hitters in Colorado’s lineup.
Hits: No matter what he does or says, Kershaw will be compared to Koufax for the rest of his life. Every season that goes by those comparisons seem more apt. They might one day seem unflattering, hard as that is to believe. Since 1920, Kershaw has the lowest career ERA (2.62) among pitchers with 1,000 or more innings and 100 or more starts. Koufax (2.76) is third on that list.
Misses: Oh boy. What a feeling that had to be for Ramirez when he charged a little dribbler hit by Dickerson -– a speedy runner -– and made a bad throw to Adrian Gonzalez. The throwing error broke up Kershaw’s perfect game leading off the seventh inning. Ramirez has had his share of defensive struggles, but things have been better lately for the Dodgers’ defense. Kershaw seemed to say something encouraging to Ramirez as they passed each other as Ramirez went back to his position. Dodgers manager Don Mattingly brought in a defensive replacement, Carlos Triunfel, but it was one inning too late.
Stat of the game: Kershaw eclipsed his season high for strikeouts, finally getting past the magic number of nine. He had struck out exactly nine batters in seven of his 11 starts coming into the game, if you include minor league rehab outings.
Up next: The Dodgers have their first day off since June 5. They start a three-game series in San Diego on Friday night.