Clayton Kershaw is the best pitcher in baseball. The Los Angeles Dodgers southpaw heads into tonight’s contest with the San Diego Padres riding an astounding 36-straight scoreless innings streak. Kershaw will likely be the National League starter at the midsummer classic next week after posting a 10-2 record with a 1.85 ERA thus far in 2014.
The Padres are the worst offensive club in baseball. Heading into tonight’s showdown with Kershaw, the Padres rank dead last in the N.L. in several offensive categories including batting average, OBP, OPS, slugging percentage, total bases, at-bats, hits and runs.
So logically Kershaw should already be on perfect game alert, right?
Perhaps not. For how terrible this Padres club has been offensively, they strangely have had relative “success” against Kershaw. Emphasis on relative. In 2013 Kershaw lost three games against the Padres and posted a 3.33 ERA, including a 7-2 loss at Dodger stadium last April (five runs off Kershaw).
In 34 career plate appearances Padres OF Chris Denorfia has hit .310 (32 points higher than his career average) with three HRs and four RBIs, while also posting a .412 OBP against the two-time Cy Young award winner. Will Venable, a career .250 hitter, has hit .267 with a .353 OBP against Kershaw, and catcher Yasmani Grandal has four hits and a walk in nine career plate appearances.
This is not to say the Padres are posting eye-popping numbers against Kershaw, but they are a bit surprising. Look for the Padres to snap Kershaw’s scoreless inning streak tonight at Dodger Stadium as he pursues Orel Hershiser’s remarkable record of 59 straight scoreless innings.