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.
Christian Yelich simply can’t be stopped. The Brewers outfielder (and defending NL MVP) entered Saturday’s game with a league-leading 11 home runs after swatting two against the Dodgers on Friday night, then clubbed another two homers in the first six innings of Saturday’s game.
The first came on a 2-1 pitch from the Dodgers’ Hyun-Jin Ryu, who lobbed a changeup toward the bottom of the strike zone before it was lifted up and out to center field for a solo home run in the third inning.
While Chase Anderson and Alex Claudio held down the fort against the Dodgers’ lineup, Yelich prepared for his second blast in the sixth inning — this one a 421-foot double-decker on a first-pitch curveball from Ryu.
Yelich’s 13 home runs not only gave him a stronger grip on the league’s leaderboard, but helped him tie yet another franchise record, too. Per MLB.com’s Adam McCalvy, he’s tied with Prince Fielder for the most home runs hit by a Brewers player in a single month, and sits just one home run shy of tying Álex Rodríguez’s 2007 record for most home runs hit within any club’s first 22 games of the season.
It may be far too early to predict which players will finish first in the MVP races this fall, but there’s no denying Yelich has already set himself apart from the competition. Through Saturday’s performance, he’s batting .361/.459/.880 with a 1.329 OPS and MLB-best 31 RBI across 98 PA so far.