Derek Lowe becomes first pitcher to throw a shutout without a strikeout since 2002

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Derek Lowe came into today’s start with a 5-1 record and 2.47 ERA despite totaling just 13 strikeouts in 44 innings, but what he did this afternoon is even more remarkable.

Lowe tossed a complete-game shutout against the punchless Twins and did so without recording a strikeout. The last pitcher to throw a shutout without a strikeout? Scott Erickson way back in 2002.

He pitched well, of course, but the Twins’ lineup is brutally bad at this point and Minnesota is particularly inept versus ground-ball pitchers. Lowe has long been one of the majors’ most extreme ground-ball pitchers and today he induced an incredible 20 ground-ball outs, including four double plays.

For the season he’s now 6-1 with a 2.05 ERA … and more walks (17) than strikeouts (13) in 53 innings.

Clayton Kershaw might return to the Dodgers’ rotation next week

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Dodgers southpaw Clayton Kershaw is nearing his return to the mound, according to club manager Dave Roberts. Both Kershaw (left biceps tendinitis) and fellow lefty Rich Hill (left middle finger blister) are scheduled to toss simulated games on Saturday; depending on the outcome, Roberts says Kershaw could forgo a minor league assignment and slot back into the rotation by Thursday.

Kershaw, 30, was diagnosed with biceps tendinitis as the team closed out their Mexico Series at the start of the month. He has not made a start in several weeks, but was finally able to resume throwing on Sunday and managed to get through two successful bullpen sessions. Though Dodgers’ ace hasn’t been completely injury-free over his 11-year career in the majors, this is the first significant issue he’s had with his pitching arm so far. The team is expected to take every precaution with the lefty, and will likely limit him to just four innings during Saturday’s simulated game.

Prior to his injury, Kershaw was working on another dominant run with the club, sporting a 2.86 ERA, 2.0 BB/9 and 9.8 SO/9 through his first 44 innings of the season. While Kershaw, Hill and left-handed starter Hyun-Jin Ryu served their respective terms on the disabled list this month, the Dodgers utilized a combination of relievers Ross Stripling and Brock Stewart, both of whom impressed during their limited time in the rotation.