The Dodgers’ Clayton Kershaw blanked the Brewers for eight innings Thursday to earn his 15th win in what ended up being a 5-1 game.
The Brewers, who had won six straight and 19 of their last 21 games, managed just five hits off Kershaw before finally scoring a run in the ninth.
Having thrown 104 pitches in eight, Kershaw didn’t get a chance to go for his third shutout of the season. Javy Guerra came in and gave up a triple to Ryan Braun and a sac fly to Prince Fielder before finishing a 5-1 game.
Kershaw had just six strikeouts today, leaving him one short of 200 for the season. He’ll still be the first National Leaguer to reach that mark this year unless Cliff Lee can fan 16 batters next time out.
It was the eighth time this season that Kershaw has gone without allowing a run. That’s tied for first in the majors with Lee. Kershaw’s Dodger teammate, Hiroki Kuroda, has done it seven times. A host of starters have done it six times apiece: Josh Beckett, Josh Collmenter, Tim Lincecum, Wandy Rodriguez, Tim Stauffer, Jason Vargas and Jered Weaver.
All spring training there was at least some mild confusion about Nationals first baseman Ryan Zimmerman. He played in almost no regular big league spring training games, instead, staying on the back fields, playing in simulated and minor league contests. When that usually happens, it’s because a player is rehabbing or even hiding an injury, but the Nats insisted that was not the case with Zimmerman. Not everyone believed it. I, for one, was skeptical.
The skepticism was unwarranted, as Zimmerman answered the bell for Opening Day and has played all season. As Jared Diamond of the Wall Street Journal writes today, it was all by design. He skipped spring training because he doesn’t like it and because he thinks it’ll help him avoid late-season injuries and slowdowns, the likes of which he has suffered over the years.
It’s hard to really judge this now, of course. On the one hand Zimmerman has started really slow this season. What’s more, he has started to show signs of warming up only in the past week, after getting almost as many big league, full-speed plate appearances under his belt as a normal spring training would’ve given him. On the other hand, April is his worst month across his entire 14-year career, so one slow April doesn’t really prove anything and, again, Zimmerman and the Nats will consider this a success if he’s healthy and productive in August and September.
It is sort of a missed opportunity, though. Players hate spring training. They really do. if Zimmerman had made a big deal out of skipping it and came out raking this month, I bet a lot more teams would be amenable to letting a veteran or three take it much more easy next spring. Good ideas can be good ideas even if they don’t produce immediately obvious results, but baseball tends to encourage a copycat culture only when someone can point to a stat line or to standings as justification.
Way to ruin it for everyone, Ryan. 😉