In limiting Padres to one hit, Dodgers ace cuts ERA in such starts to 0.94
By Ken Gurnick
SAN DIEGO -- Clayton Kershaw is a lot better at pitching than he is at talking about it.
"Just a fun day," was Kershaw's first reaction on Monday night after another one of his typically dominant Opening Day starts turned into a 15-0 wipeout of the Padres to usher in the Dave Roberts managerial era.
Thankfully, Kershaw's batterymate is as expert discussing Kershaw as he is catching him.
"Vintage Opening Day Clayton -- focused, ready to go," said A.J. Ellis, one of two Dodgers, along with Adrian Gonzalez, to also drive in three runs in the rout.
"He comes to Spring Training ready for Opening Day. He had a good idea what he wanted to do; he's familiar with these hitters. He had a great game plan going in and it came down to execution, and Clayton did a great job."
Nothing new there. Kershaw -- who held San Diego to one hit and one walk, striking out nine, over seven innings -- has made six consecutive Opening Day starts. In those games, the Dodgers have gone 6-0. Personally, the ace is 4-0 with a 0.94 ERA in those starts.
"Maybe unfairly, but we expect him to be great every time he takes the mound, and tonight he was," said Roberts.
Kershaw is tied with Don Sutton for the franchise mark of most consecutive Opening Day starts (six) and tied with Sutton for second in Opening Day wins behind Don Drysdale's five.
"It's fun to be part of; it doesn't ever get old," Kershaw said, deflecting a question about why he's so good when he has six months to prepare for his next start.
Here's Ellis' explanation:
"It speaks a lot to what he does from a focus and concentration level. All of us are on Cloud 9 coming into the clubhouse Opening Day. You see pitchers all across baseball overamped, overthrowing. But we're 6-0 when he pitches Opening Day. He understands what it takes. It comes back to living in the present and focusing on the task at hand."
Kershaw -- who needed 96 pitches -- said it doesn't hurt to have a pile of runs with which to work.
"We got two runs early and kept adding on, adding on," said Kershaw, who retired the final 13 batters he faced. "For me, I just want to have quick innings and get our guys back to bat. With 15 runs, hopefully I can make that stand up. I don't know if that makes me relaxed, but it's a reason to be efficient. You don't have to be as perfect -- just attack the strike zone and get quick outs."
The only blemishes in Kershaw's line were a second-inning two-out walk to Yangervis Solarte (in which Kershaw thought he was squeezed by plate umpire Gary Cederstrom on one pitch early in the at-bat) and a lined two-out single by Jon Jay in the third inning that left fielder Carl Crawford said he didn't see until it bounced to him.