8:10 PM ET, June 24, 2014
Kauffman Stadium, Kansas City, Missouri
KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- Clayton Kershaw was asked to assess his performance against the Kansas City Royals on Tuesday night, and the Dodgers ace bemoaned the fact that he didn't have command of his fastball.
Maybe if he did, he would have tossed another no-hitter.
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"It definitely wasn't easy tonight," Kershaw said.
It only looked that way.
"All night he felt like he was fighting it," Dodgers manager Don Mattingly said. "His fastball command wasn't where he wanted it, but typical Clayton."
Kershaw (8-2) allowed six hits and a walk while striking out eight. The two-time Cy Young winner hasn't allowed a run in 21 1/3 innings, spanning his near-perfect game against Colorado on Wednesday -- the only runner occurred on an error -- and his previous start against Arizona.
Kenley Jansen pitched a perfect ninth for his 23rd save.
Danny Duffy (4-7) dueled admirably with Kershaw for six innings, allowing one run on four hits and four walks. But the left-hander was done in by a high pitch count, needing a season-high 105, and was eventually lifted to protect his surgically repaired shoulder.
Eric Hosmer had a pair of hits for the Royals, the first with one out in the first inning to end any thought of Kershaw tossing consecutive no-hitters. Otherwise, their offense was sporadic, unable to string together enough runners to pose much of a threat.
"He's as good as advertised, that's for sure, every bit of it," Hosmer said. "He's definitely got his game plan, which he sticks to the whole time. He's got four well-above-average pitches. The main thing about him is he gets ahead and attacks you early. That's a guy you don't want to get behind on with great off-speed and a fastball that he can hump to 95, 96 (mph). Luckily, that's the last time we face him."
The Dodgers plated their first run after Justin Turner tripled to lead off the game. He scored on a hard grounder by Gonzalez that deflected off Duffy and toward second base for what nearly ended up being the game's only run.
Ethier's RBI single came off reliever Kelvin Herrera in the ninth inning.
Putting the 'K' in Kershaw
Clayton Kershaw now has a 2.24 ERA and 11.7 K's per 9 IP this season. He's not yet qualified for the ERA title, but once he is, has a chance to join Pedro Martinez and Randy Johnson as pitchers with at least 11 K's per 9 IP and an ERA under 2.50 since 2000:
|Year||Pitcher||Won Cy Young?|
|-- ESPN Stats & Information|
Duffy needed 29 pitches to survive the first, and he wiggled out of jams each of the next four innings, too. But while he was gritty enough to keep Kansas City in the game, a lineup that has struggled to put up runs for the past week failed him again.
Kansas City has scored only 13 times while losing five of its past six.
Los Angeles had lost all four of its games played at Kauffman Stadium, including the series opener Monday night, when the Royals beat up on Zack Greinke, their former ace.
They had a much tougher time handling Kershaw.
Showcasing his mid-90s fastball, power curveball and devastating slider, Kershaw at one point retired eight straight. And even when he ran into trouble, he slipped right out of it.
Kershaw induced a double play after Hosmer's single in the first. He rallied from a 3-0 count to Alex Gordon to strike him out with a runner aboard in the sixth. In the seventh, he got Justin Maxwell and Alcides Escobar on groundouts to leave a pair of runners on base.
"That's the best slider we've seen all year long," Royals manager Ned Yost said. "That thing had teeth with a bite."
In fact, the biggest blight on Kershaw's night might have been his walk to Gordon in the fifth inning. It was only the second he had allowed to a left-handed hitter this season.
"I made some pitches when I had to," Kershaw said. "Tonight I was making a lot more stressful pitches. The no-hitter was stressful for more personal reasons."
Dodgers SS Hanley Ramirez (sore right shoulder) was scratched from the starting lineup. "Hopefully we'll have him tomorrow," Mattingly said. ... The Royals activated LHP Bruce Chen (bulging disc) from the 60-day DL, optioned LHP Tim Collins to Triple-A Omaha and designated LHP Donnie Joseph for assignment. ... Dodgers RHP Dan Haren faces Royals RHP James Shields in Wednesday night's series finale.
KANSAS CITY, MO - JUNE 24: Danny Duffy #41 of the Kansas City Royals warms up during a game against the Los...(Photo by Ed Zurga/Getty Images)
Regular Season Series
|1st||A Gonzalez grounded into fielder's choice to pitcher, J Turner scored, Y Puig out at second.||1||0|
|9th||A Ethier singled to center, A Gonzalez scored, A Ellis to second.||2||0|
|View complete Play-By-Play|
|Stadium||Kauffman Stadium, Kansas City, MO|
|Attendance||28,302 (74.7% full) - % is based on regular season capacity|
|Weather||82 degrees, cloudy|
|Umpires||Home Plate - Hunter Wendelstedt, First Base - Brian Knight, Second Base - Mike DiMuro, Third Base - Mike Estabrook|
Clayton Kershaw's start last night lowered his ERA to 2.24, and gave him 11.7 K per 9 IP this season. He's not yet qualified for the ERA title, but once he is, he has a chance to join Pedro Martinez and Randy Johnson as pitchers with at least 11 K per 9 IP and an ERA under 2.50 since 2000.[+]
With his win over the Royals tonight, Clayton Kershaw has won his last 5 starts, matching the longest streak of his career (won 5 straight from July 7-August 8 in 2011).
Opposing hitters are hitting .171 against Clayton Kershaw's curveball this season, which is 55 points below the average among pitchers with at least five starts. The Royals are batting .199 as a team against curveballs this season, which ranks 24th in MLB.
ESPN Stats & Information
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