Kershaw historically owns the Giants; in nine career starts, he’s allowed just ten earned runs in 55.2 IP, and has a 60/16 K/BB mark. This will be the fourth time he’s seen them this year; he dominated in the first two (7 shutout innings on Opening Day, beating Lincecum, 6.2 scoreless on April 11) before running into trouble the third time (4 ER in 5 IP on May 18).
Now how about adding eight shutout innings with 12 whiffs against just three hits and a walk? By Game Score, which is admittedly imperfect, that was the third best start of Kershaw’s career. That it was also the third best start of his season should tell you a lot about just how good his 2011 has been so far, particularly now that he’s up to 23 consecutive scoreless innings and an MLB-best 167 strikeouts.
Back to the Giants, Kershaw’s mastery over them continues. This was his 9th career start against San Francisco, and only once in that time – earlier this year – have the Giants managed to score more than two runs.
KABC’s Joe Block tells us that the resulting 1.41 ERA (also including one relief appearance) against SF is the best in MLB history for a pitcher against them. They’ve been around for well over 100 years. That’s… kinda impressive. Despite his excellence, Kershaw wasn’t allowed to go out for the 9th, even though he had struck out the side in the 8th. At the time, it seemed odd to remove him for Javy Guerra in a one-run game, since Guerra’s last few saves have been rollercoasters; the decision made even less sense when Trent Oeltjen, pinch-hitting for Kershaw, merely used his at-bat to sacrifice. Fortunately, Guerra retired the side in order, and the Dodgers avoided the sweep headed into the off-day.
And then there was Dioner Navarro, who had one of the more bipolar days you’ll ever see. On one hand, he had two throwing errors in the first three innings (among three Dodger miscues on the day, leading KABC broadcaster Charley Steiner to bizarrely claim the Dodgers usually had one of the better defenses in baseball). On the other, his solo homer against Tim Lincecum was the margin of victory – and the second time a Navarro homer has led to a 1-0 victory this season.