Kershaw still a master of (opener) ceremonies

LA star now 5-0 with 0.99 ERA on Opening Day

Kershaw still a master of (opener) ceremonies

LOS ANGELES -- The day will come when Clayton Kershaw's No. 22 is mounted on the Ring of Honor at Dodger Stadium, because he keeps doing what he did on Monday.

With Hall of Famer Sandy Koufax watching from the owners' box, Kershaw matched Hall of Famer Don Sutton with his seventh consecutive Opening Day start, firing a two-hitter over seven innings in a 14-3 blowout win over the Padres.

Kershaw is 5-0 with a 0.99 ERA in those Opening Day starts, the wins matching Hall of Famer Don Drysdale for the franchise record and the ERA the second-lowest in MLB history for at least five openers (Rick Mahler, 0.92).

"I've said it before, this team has got so much history, that any time you're associated with [Drysdale], with Sandy, with Fernando [Valenzuela], is pretty special," Kershaw said.

And so is Kershaw. This was the Dodgers' 60th opener in Los Angeles, 56th at Dodger Stadium and first without the retired Vin Scully at the microphone. But it's not just coincidence that the Dodgers have won seven consecutive Opening Day games.

"I think it's a huge honor to get to do it -- but seven times is pretty crazy, I never would have guessed that," Kershaw said. "I don't really have a reason [for the success], but it's a lot of fun and I'm thankful for the opportunity."

Kershaw struck out eight (five looking) without a walk, and at the plate, he singled, walked and scored twice. One of the two runs he allowed was unearned because of a Corey Seager throwing error, the other coming on a Ryan Schimpf home run.

"With the fanfare and notoriety, you have to be some kind of special to not let those things get to you," manager Dave Roberts said of Kershaw.

Of course, leave it to Kershaw to blunt the adulation with a reminder of what really drives him -- that ever-elusive World Series ring, which every other member of the retired uniform number Ring of Fame won at least once.

"To come as close as we did last year, to bring back a majority of the guys, everybody kind of remembers that, and hopefully you gain experience with failure -- I would know," he said with self-deprecating humor. "Hopefully that makes us a little better this year."

The lefty said Roberts didn't need to give a pep talk before the game because, well, this is pretty much the same team that was so deflated after losing the National League Championship Series at Wrigley Field last October.

"We have the same core, it's [Roberts'] second year, he's got a good pulse of the team," said Kershaw. "It's a fun team, we like to have fun, but at the same time we also know we're here for a reason and we've got a great chance to win this thing."

A year ago, Kershaw and the Dodgers beat the Padres on Opening Day, 15-0. He is 15-6 with a 2.03 ERA in his career against San Diego.

Ken Gurnick has covered the Dodgers since 1989, and for since 2001. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.