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Saturday's Top 5: Clayton Kershaw keeps his streak alive

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Kershaw dominates Angels, extends streak

Baseball Tonight Spotlight: Clayton Kershaw pitches eight scoreless inning to extend his shutout streak to 37 consecutive innings as the Dodgers beat the Angels 3-1.

1. Clayton Kershaw, Los Angeles Dodgers: With eight more frames added to it, the 37-inning scoreless streak is a thing of its own, something Kershaw is sustaining after initial concerns that his health might endanger it, not to mention the Dodgers' chances of staying out in front in the National League West if he was lost for any real length of time.

Instead of adding to those concerns, Kershaw made it look easy in the Dodgers' 3-1 win over the Angels, allowing just three baserunners across those eight frames and 115 pitches, even hanging an oh-fer with two K's on Mike Trout, simply the best player on the planet, in the first-ever confrontation between reigning MVPs.

But you know what's even cooler to think about? That Kershaw might not just take that streak of innings into the 40s his next time out there. He could also simultaneously tie the franchise record for 200-strikeout seasons with six, which would tie a mark shared by Sandy Koufax and Don Drysdale, the Dodgers' co-aces of the high-mound '60s. He's at 192 now, and eight whiffs? For Kershaw? A trifle. And he's just 27 years old, so yes, he's going to rewrite more than a few corners of the record book in the decade to come, perhaps even more than he has already.

2. Lucas Duda, New York Mets: Handed a “produce or come take a seat next to me” ultimatum by manager Terry Collins, Duda has gone on a tear: Who doesn't love it when Marcus Thames comes up in polite conversation? Anyway, Duda's “all-or-nothing” hit streak continued into the eighth when he doubled home Curtis Granderson to plate the third of the three runs he drove in to beat the Washington Nationals, 3-2, and reclaim the limelight from newly minted Met Yoenis Cespedes in his first game. But most importantly, the win brought the Mets to within a game of the lead in the NL East. Anybody want to stick with the assertion that the Nats are the team to beat? Tune in when Noah Syndergaard takes on Jordan Zimmermann on ESPN's Sunday Night Baseball broadcast.

3. The Giants rain on the Cole Hamels parade: Sure, this was like rooting for the Grinch to steal Christmas, and it was nice that the Rangers made themselves relevant by demonstrating that they still have the organizational depth to deal for someone as valuable as the Phillies ace. But the defending world champs have an NL West title to contend for and another invitation to October to earn.

So when the Giants bounced back from trailing Texas 7-4 with four outs to go, it just seemed characteristic of them. Skip identifying “the” big hit: Was it Joe Panik's two-out double in the eighth to chase Hamels? Hunter Pence's game-tying single three batters later? Pence's lead-taking blast in the 11th? What about Brandon Belt's two-homer night to bookend the Giants' scoring in their 9-7 win?

For Hamels, this wasn't unfamiliar territory for him -- there's only one team he's faced 10 or more times that has scored more regularly against him than the Giants, who average 4.6 runs per nine against him.

(For those curious, the team that does even better against Hamels? The Rangers' interstate and inter-division rivals, the Houston Astros, who average 5.2 R/9. Probably not the last you'll hear about that stat.)

4. Travis Shaw, Boston Red Sox: Ever had that perfect day at work? Shaw came pretty close, putting up a huge day at the plate after getting called back up from Triple-A Pawtucket to help cover from the Panda's latest complaint. By homering twice without tripling, Shaw did better than hitting for the cycle for the Sox -- and seemed pretty OK with that -- while delivering four hits and scoring five times to help Boston beat the Rays 11-7.

Far from being a top-10 prospect in the Sox system, Shaw has a rap to beat that perhaps focuses less on what he is than on what he isn't: As a corner infielder, his bat may not play at first base on a contender, and his glove at third has not and may never merit regular work. Add in a slow development curve that has seen him struggle in his initial seasons after scaling each of the upper rungs of Boston's farm system, and you can understand why he may not be in the long-term picture at either corner for the Sox. If you look at what he can do, you see a guy who can work counts (his walk rate in the minors is above 12 percent) and clobber heat.

Days like this are rare for anybody, but here's hoping Shaw's great day at the office reminded people about what he can do; whether that ultimately creates an opportunity -- in Boston or elsewhere -- remains to be seen. But how can you not root for the guy?

5. Those plucky Minnesota Twins keep on keepin' on: A walk-off comeback win against erstwhile M's closer Carson Smith? Thank Miguel Sano for doubling to lead off the ninth, Eddie Rosario's steal of third, Kurt Suzuki's plinked single to plate the game-winner, but also thank Kyle Gibson's latest sweet start. So here we are, two-thirds done with the season, and the Twins are still holding onto a wild-card slot.

Christina Kahrl writes about MLB for ESPN. You can follow her on Twitter.