Returning to the place where he pitched what was arguably the worst game of his career,
Kershaw limited the
Considering Kershaw's history, what unfolded was entirely predictable. He rarely follows a disappointing start with another. He seems to be motivated by unpleasant memories rather than be haunted by them.
Kershaw's last start here, on May 17, was an absolute disaster. Pitching for the third time since returning from the disabled list, Kershaw was battered for seven earned runs in only 12/3 innings.
That day marked the turning point of Kershaw's season, which is expected to end with a
Since then, Kershaw is 14-2 with a 1.29 earned-run average.
For the season, Kershaw is 16-3 with a 1.73 ERA and the Dodgers are 18-4 when he starts. If not for his first start at Chase Field, Kershaw's ERA would be 1.35.
"I'm sure getting kicked around a little bit is going to fuel him," Manager
Mattingly was right. Kershaw downplayed any links between his start Wednesday and the one here three months ago, pointing to how the Diamondbacks are a completely different team.
"I don't know how many people were in the lineup from the last start," Kershaw said. "It wasn't much."
In fact, there were only three:
All-Star first baseman
Still, Kershaw encountered trouble.
"It was a bad start, really," he said. "I felt like guys were on base the whole night. Working in and out of jams is never fun to do."
Kershaw walked the first batter he faced, Ender Inciarte, on four pitches.
"Hopefully, I don't do that any more," Kershaw said.
In the third inning, Kershaw walked Pennington to load the bases. That marked the first time this season that Kershaw loaded the bases.
"I blew that streak, I guess," Kershaw said, smiling.
It didn't matter. Kershaw forced
With some help from their outfield turf, the Diamondbacks scored in the fourth inning. A double by Marte was followed by a single to left-center field by
Kershaw settled down to retire 15 of the next 17 batters he faced.
He gave up a leadoff triple to Inciarte in the fifth inning, but stranded him by retiring the next three batters. He struck out the side in the seventh inning and fanned 10 overall.