SEATTLE (AP) — Clayton Kershaw may not know the exact change he made has him again throwing like one of the top pitchers in the National League.
Whatever it was, it’s unlocked a dominant version of the left-hander over his past two starts.
“I don’t know. I just know that you reach back and the ball comes out a little bit differently,” Kershaw said. “I don’t know why other than all the different stuff we’ve tried over the past 10 moths or so, but it’s a good feeling, no doubt.”
Kershaw struck out a season-high 11 in seven strong innings, Cody Bellinger homered for the second straight game and the Los Angeles Dodgers beat the Seattle Mariners 6-1 on Thursday.
Kershaw moved past Don Drysdale and into second place on the Dodgers’ all-time strikeout list. It came on his fifth strikeout of the game when he got Shed Long Jr. swinging leading off the fifth inning. Kershaw now has 2,493 and trails only Don Sutton in franchise history. Sutton has 2,696.
“It’s very cool to be a Dodger long enough to accomplish something like that. It’s pretty special and some of the names on that list, it’s pretty cool to be a part of that,” Kershaw said.
Kershaw (3-1) struck out the side in the fifth and got Sam Haggerty leading off the sixth. He closed out his dominant afternoon by fanning Long and Braden Bishop. It was a second straight dominant performance for the lefty, after he allowed one run and one hit in his last start against the Angels.
Seattle managed just four hits off Kershaw and the only run came on Kyle Seager’s solo home run in the fourth inning. Haggerty’s double and singles by Kyle Lewis and Austin Nola were the only other hits allowed by Kershaw.
“When you get a veteran pitcher out there like that who’s on top of his game, it’s a struggle, you got to really battle, you’re not going to get a ton of good pitches to hit. And when you get one you’ve got to get it in play,” Seattle manager Scott Servais said. “We’ve got to give him credit, he was really good today. Our guys learned a lot.”
Kershaw relied heavily on his slider that produced 12 swinging strikes. But his curveball was just as good, and was the pitch he used to strike out Seager looking to end the sixth inning.
Kershaw walked just one and threw only 96 pitches. It was his first game of at least 10 strikeouts since Aug. 25, 2019, when he fanned 12 against the Yankees.
“It’s a little more dynamic Clayton,” Dodgers manager Dave Roberts said. “What he is doing with the slider it sets the tone for everything for him.”
Bellinger’s solo home run came leading off the eighth inning against Seattle reliever Ljay Newsome in his major league debut. It was the 50th home run of the season for Los Angeles.
BACK ON THE MOUND
Seattle starter Yusei Kikuchi returned to the rotation after being scratched from his last start due to neck spasms, but couldn’t finish the fifth inning. The Dodgers scored four times in the third inning on an RBI double by Matt Beaty and RBI singles from A.J. Pollock and Bellinger. The Dodgers also got runs via a wild pitch and passed ball with runners at third.
Kikuchi (0-2) allowed just four hits, but walked four and struck out five. It was his first start since Aug. 7.
“I was a little bit worried going in because you know it has been such a long time,” Kikuchi said through an interpreter. “But early on, in the first I felt like everything was fine, the neck was feeling great. Everything mechanically was fine.”
Mariners: Rookie 1B Evan White was out of the lineup after taking a foul ball off his left knee in Wednesday night’s game. Servais said White was sore but was hopeful White would be back in the lineup on Friday. … Seattle placed RHP Erik Swanson on the 10-day injured list retroactive to Aug. 17 with a right forearm strain. Swanson has appeared in six games.
Dodgers: RHP Walker Buehler (0-0, 5.21) gets the start as Los Angeles returns home to face Colorado. Buehler allowed four earned runs in 4 2/3 innings in his last start against the Angels.
Mariners: LHP Nick Margevicius (0-1, 3.14) takes the mound as Seattle opens a weekend series against Texas. Margevicius will be making his third start after moving into the rotation when Kendall Graveman went on the injured list.
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