The bad news is that the highly-billed marquee battle between two of the very best in the game today fell short of expectations – at least for one of the participants.
The good news is, and to borrow a line from an old radio spot, “Kershaw was lights out!” … almost.
In that old radio spot, a youngster says to his grandfather “Wow! a Shutout!”, to which the grandfather utters that now infamous but not-so-uncommon reply.
In reality, Kershaw was as dominating as ever, carrying a perfect game into the fourth inning and a shutout into the ninth. He ended up allowing one run on four hits while walking one (his first of the season) and striking out eight (six looking) in his 8.1 innings pitched.
“Not really,” Kershaw said, when asked if getting six called strikeouts felt any different than swinging strikeouts. “Sometimes people looking for something different get strikeouts, sometimes you get them to chase, and sometimes they put it in play. Outs are outs, I’ll take them however I can get them.”
But where Kershaw excelled, his former teammate and still very good friend Zack Greinke struggled … mightily. The hard-throwing right-hander left the game after only five innings (at 107 pitches) having allowed five runs on 10 hits while striking out four and walking three in the eventual 7-1 beating of the Arizona Diamondback in front of 49,438 at Dodger Stadium.
So what was it like for Kershaw facing his old teammate and friend in the much-anticipated premier pitching duel?
“It’s not a lot of fun to face guys that you know and consider a friend,” Kershaw said. “We did a good job against him tonight, we really battled and made him throw a lot of pitches and really didn’t give him easy outs tonight … kind of broke it open with a few big hits with runners in scoring position. So hats off to our guys tonight. They really battled well against him.”
Although most fans didn’t realize it at the time, when Dbacks right fielder Chris Owings broke up Kershaw’s perfect game / no-hitter in the top of the fourth inning, he did so on a very hard line drive back up the middle that actually grazed Kershaw’s right arm.
“It kind of skimmed my arm a little bit, so pretty close.”
The Dodgers finished the night with a combined 13 hits, with everyone except Kershaw reaching base at least once. And although the game was well out of reach when he did so, Dodgers left fielder Andrew Toles‘ eighth-inning towering two-run home run to right-center field put a dagger through the hearts of the (now) 7-4 first place Diamondbacks.
In addition to Toles, Corey Seager, Justin Turner, Logan Forsythe and Yasmani Grandal also had two-hit games, with Adrian Gonzalez driving in the first Dodger run of the night and Forsythe the second and eventual winning run in the Dodgers half of the third inning. During that frame Greinke allowed four hits – all singles – including three in a row to Messrs. Seager, Turner and AGon.
Speaking of good friends, one of Kershaw’s closest was on hand to witness his superb outing – Dodgers Hall of Famer and one of the most beloved Dodgers in franchise history Sandy Koufax was in the house on Friday night. And while the greatest Dodgers left-hander of all time got to witnessed his protégé’s outstanding performance, the Dodger legend was actually in town for the unveiling of the new Jackie Robinson statue on Saturday, April 15 – Jackie Robinson Day.
Asked if he had a chance to speak with Koufax before or after Friday night’s game, Kershaw answered “Not today, but I’m sure we’ll talk tomorrow.”