To complicate matters, the Arizona Diamondbacks - Kershaw's opponent on Jackie Robinson Day - have been among the hottest teams in the league to begin the season. Winners of five of its last six, Arizona came into the game riding a 10-game win streak versus the division rival Dodgers.
But Kershaw put an end to that, striking out 12 over seven innings while walking none. Remarkably, it's the ninth time Kershaw has recorded 12 or more strikeouts without walking anyone in a start.
Over his seven innings of work, Kershaw allowed one run - a solo homer in the seventh inning - on two hits to carry the Dodgers to their fifth victory of the season.
"I can't say enough about that outing and how much we needed it," Dodgers manager Dave Roberts said after the game of his struggling club, according to J.P. Hoornstra of MLB.com.
Through his first four starts of the season, despite owning a 1-2 record, Kershaw boasts a sterling 1.73 ERA and 3.03 FIP. Of the 101 batters the left-hander has faced this year, 31 of them have been sat down on strikes. Meanwhile, three have reached base on a walk.
Kershaw tipped his cap to the Dodgers' offense, which gave him seven runs of support - after the team scored three runs over his previous three starts. But the ace also noted that he had to change things up to keep the Diamondbacks guessing.
"You can't be predictable," Kershaw told Alanna Rizzo of SportsNet LA about his pitch mix. The future Hall of Famer doesn't only have one of the best repertoires, but knows to adapt to his opponents - particularly division rivals like the Diamondbacks who he will face many more times over the remainder of the year.
The Dodgers travel to San Diego to face the Padres for a three-game set and Kershaw's next game will likely come against the Washington Nationals at Dodger Stadium next weekend.
Copyright © 2018 Score Media Ventures Inc. All rights reserved. Certain content reproduced under license.