Los Angeles Dodgers‘ Clayton Kershaw was cruising through his 2014 campaign until Tuesday evening when he hit a mild snag, courtesy of the cross-town Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim. The two-time Cy Young winner had not allowed more than three earned runs and 10 hits in an entire outing dating back to May 17. After three innings were in the books against the Angels, Kershaw had already given up seven hits (four for extra bases) and surrendered three earned runs.
The Angels (67-45) are nipping at the heels of their neighbours to the north, the Oakland Athletics (69-43), for both the division lead and the best record in MLB. They are a well rounded team, led by young superstar Mike Trout, who appears to presently be a lock for AL MVP. Combined with a bounce back season by Albert Pujols, strong and timely performances from OF Josh Hamilton, SS Erick Aybar and 2B Howie Kendrick, the Halos’ offense is a juggernaut. They are ranked an impressive second in runs scored league wide, third in team batting average and fourth in team OPS. In case you did not already pick up on it, the Angels are good, and they can really hit.
Kershaw’s ability in this ball game showed why he is great. From a talent perspective, but also from a mentally composed one, he was able to persevere. Kershaw bent, but he did not break early in the game. Despite the Angels getting the best of him through three innings, the 26-year old made his adjustments and showed savvy and resilience reminiscent of a 12-year veteran on the mound.
The Claw was able to get his pitch count back under control in the top of the fourth, eventually making it through seven complete innings. The final four of which, he managed to not allow anymore hits or runs for the duration of. Lesser pitchers, and men, would have faltered in the face of early adversity against one of the league’s most impressive offenses. Kershaw did not. He held the Angels in check, and turned a bad start into a quality one. The outcome being he left the game with a lead intact and Dodgers were ultimately victorious, tying the best of four interleague series in the battle for L.A. at a game apiece.