LOS ANGELES -- It feels absolutely logical to state that at some point before the 2014 season ends, Los Angeles Dodgers starter and reigning Cy Young winner Clayton Kershaw will give up another run. After all, it's not yet July. This is big league baseball. Even the greatest pitchers surrender runs. That's the world we live in, and therefore, it makes total sense to picture an opponent crossing the dish under Kershaw's watch.
Then again, consider how Sunday’s 6-0 win over the St. Louis Cardinals extended Kershaw’s streak of scoreless innings to 28, the longest by any Dodgers pitcher since Orel Hershiser (59.0) in 1988. Or how he just put the finishing touches on a 6-0/61 strikeout/0.82 ERA June that has offered no signs of slowing. Staring down these numbers, it doesn't feel entirely illogical to assume he'll put up goose eggs from now through September, even though that makes absolutely no sense.
Quite frankly, Kershaw is pitching so far out of his mind right now that nothing about him makes any sense.
It makes no sense, for example, that when asked about Kershaw's latest date with brilliance, Dodgers manager Don Mattingly's reaction was to shrug rather than gush. That is, until you hear the explanation.
"The hard thing with Clayton is that we've been seeing this for a while now," Mattingly said. "And every year it seems similar. Obviously, there are stretches where he's really, really over-the-top good. But every year, there's been numerous games where it feels like he's gone out and done this. It's hard to feel like this is just so much different than the others, because it's not really. It seems the same. I wanna appreciate how good he is. I don't wanna downplay it. But it seems very similar to the last few years."
Scarily, Mattingly is right.
Check out Kershaw's stats, and the way he's running through batters is remarkably unremarkable judged against the rest of his career. Save his rookie season, he has yet to post an ERA above 3.00, had fewer than 185 strikeouts or and more than 10 losses.
This June, which has generated video-game stats and enough wind from strikeouts to power a small city, is merely a microcosm of who Kershaw is.
That's simply the truth, even if it doesn't make sense.
"It's impressive, man," gushed outfielder Matt Kemp, who has been Kershaw's teammate since the left-hander entered the league. "He's adding pitches every year. He's getting better and better every year. He's the best pitcher in the league. He's one of the best pitchers I've ever seen. I enjoy playing behind him."
Like Kemp, Andre Ethier has witnessed Kershaw's entire career, which grows more special by the outing, from a front-row seat. Asked to summarize the experience, and the outfielder admits he hasn't truly made sense of it.
"It's one of those things, I think later on, when I'm done playing, a few years down the road, I'll look at it and probably say, 'I can't believe I got a chance to play with that guy and be his teammate,'" Ethier said. "[To] see a guy of that caliber up close and personal. I appreciate it, but I think as a player you're concerned with everything, yourself, and other things going on that you don't have a chance to actually sit back and really take advantage and enjoy having been on the same team and getting to watch him."
Even the man of the hour offers no help in making sense of this run. Ask him to explain this groove, and he's as little help as the next guy.
"I don't know," Kershaw said. "Yeah, I don't know."
Sure, Kershaw might have played coy to prevent giving up the ghost to future opponents.
Or because he'd much rather heap praise on his fellow starters than himself.
Or because, like many athletes, he simply didn't feel like answering a reporter's question.
Or maybe even Kershaw struggles to wrap his head around how unthinkably good he's pitching right now, or how unthinkably good of a pitcher he has become.
Hard as it is to remember these days, the guy is actually human.