Kershaw is the great X factor
Updated: October 14, 2009, 11:47 AM ETBy Buster Olney
The first inning that Clayton Kershaw threw in the major leagues lasted 32 pitches. He was 20 years old at the time, working too quickly, and learning an important lesson right away: If you throw the ball down the middle of the plate in the major leagues, you're not necessarily going to beat the hitters the way you would in the minors. No, major league hitters will usually foul off a pitch down the middle, or drive it, and in that first inning, Albert Pujols mashed a double against Kershaw, driving in the first run the lefty allowed in the big leagues. But that first inning also hinted at Kershaw's remarkable talent, because all three of the outs he registered came on strikeouts. He demonstrated then, as now, that on any given day, he has the ability to shut down any hitter in any lineup, or any collection of hitters. And in the 17 months since his debut, Kershaw has developed swiftly, learning, and making adjustments.
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