Clayton Kershaw has now tossed 28 consecutive scoreless innings

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Clayton Kershaw has had a heck of a month. He tossed a 15-strikeout no-hitter against the Rockies on June 18, and after today’s performance in which he held the Cardinals scoreless over seven innings, he has not allowed a run in his last 28 innings. Aaron Hill drove in the last run Kershaw allowed, doubling off of him in the third inning on June 13.

Kershaw wraps up the month of June with a 0.82 ERA, 61 strikeouts, and four walks in 44 innings. According to Baseball Reference, the only other pitchers to strikeout 60 or more while walking five or fewer in a month are Curt Schilling (62/2, May 2002) and Sandy Koufax (60/5, September/October 1963).

On the season, Kershaw is 9-2 with a 2.04 ERA, 0.92 WHIP, and a 107/11 K/BB ratio in 79 1/3 innings. He’s still 26 years old, by the way.

With the Giants suffering a sweep at home at the hands of the Reds and the Dodgers’ Kershaw-aided victory over the Cardinals, the two NL West teams are locked up in a virtual first place tie. As recently as June 8, the Dodgers were 9.5 games out of first place.

The Japanese playoffs are super unfair

Hiroshima Carp
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I know a little about Japanese baseball. Not a lot, mind you. Like, I couldn’t hold my own with people who actually watch it or report on it or whatever, but I could explain some of the broad differences and similarities between the NPB and the U.S. majors.  I can say a few things about how the two leagues compare competitively speaking. I can name some stars and (I think) all the clubs. But there’s, quite obviously, a ton I don’t know.

A thing I did not know until today: the NPB playoffs are really messed up.

The NPB is divided into two leagues, the Central and the Pacific, with the winner of each league facing off in the Japan Series. Like the U.S. majors, they have preliminary playoff rounds in each league. Each league has three playoff teams, with the second and third seed teams playing a series first, and the winner of that series playing the top seed — the team with the best record in the league — in what is called the Climax Series.

Here’s the weird part: the higher-seeded team in the Climax Series — the team which won the league in the regular season — gets every single playoff game at home. What’s more, that team begins the Climax Series with an automatic 1-0 advantage. So, yes, it’s a seven-game series on paper, but one of the teams only has to win three games to advance to the Japan Series.

Oh, in Japan, they also have no problems ending a playoff game early if it rains. That’s what happened in the Central League Climax Series last night, where the lower-seeded Yokohama BayStars took on the league champ Hiroshima Carp. Here’s the report from Jason Coskrey of The Japan Times:

The rainy conditions in Hiroshima caused the umpires to stop play for over 30 minutes and ultimately call the game after five innings, minutes after the Carp put three runs on the board. Just like that, it was over. The Carp won 3-0, with Yokohama robbed of the four innings (at least) it would’ve had to try and rally.

Even better: as Coskrey notes, there are five days in between the end of the Climax Series and the beginning of the Japan Series, so there is no reason they could not suspend a game and resume it the next day. They just choose not to. The upshot: the Carp were staked to a 2-0 series lead despite the fact that they had only played five innings of baseball. UPDATE: they played a full game today, the BayStars won, so now it’s 2-1 Hiroshima.

Imagine if that happened in the NLCS. Imagine if the Dodgers began the series with a 1-0 lead over the Cubs and played all of their games in Los Angeles. Imagine there was a freak L.A. storm and it ended one of the game in the fifth inning, right after Justin Turner hit a homer. I’m pretty sure people would riot.

Kinda makes our complaints about the replay system seem rather quaint, eh?