Dodgers manager Dave Roberts campaigned on behalf of his pitcher before the game. Subsequently, his teammates confirmed his credentials at the club.
But Saturday night at the Dodger house 4-2 win over the Chicago Cubs, the biggest momentum for Clayton Kershaw The All-Star Game nomination came about because of what the 34-year-old southpaw did on the mound.
Over 7⅔ stellar innings, Kershaw gave up only two runs, earning one.
Dotting his fastball and dominating with the slider, he had twice as many outs (10) as he surrendered (five).
And in front of 45,198 at Dodger Stadium, he continued his dazzling, albeit interrupted, season, dropping his earned run average to a brilliant 2.40 after the longest start of the year.
“When he’s healthy, he’s an All-Star,” Roberts said. “He’s one of the best in baseball.”
Kershaw was unwell for much of the first half, missing a month with a back injury. Because of this, he doesn’t have the workload of other National League All-Star contenders as he only played 63 ⅔ innings.
But on the eve of the announcement of the full Major League Baseball roster for the Midsummer Classic, he emphatically announced his ninth career All-Star selection and possibly his first start in the event.
“This is a huge honor and it will be special,” Kershaw said. “But I don’t want it to be one of those things where I take a seat or take something from someone more deserving. Luckily, I don’t have to call.”
Hours before the first pitch, Roberts was more willing to press Kershaw’s claim. He cited the veteran’s stats: Kershaw’s ERA is now fifth among NL pitchers with at least 60 innings.
“What he did with the time he beat was elite,” Roberts said. “It’s just hard to imagine an All-Star game without Clayton Kershaw given the fact that he also did very well.”
Roberts also noted the poetic potential of Kershaw, who started the game at Dodger Stadium.
“I didn’t mean to go that far, but the game is for the fans and it’s only fitting that Clayton get that opportunity,” Roberts said, adding, “I’d be crazy not to think that Clayton should be named starter.
It wasn’t until after the game that Roberts realized that Kershaw had never started an All-Star Game, one of the few accomplishments that had eluded him in his entire Hall of Fame-level career.
“He’s doing everything he can to not only earn himself a place on the team, but to earn the right, the opportunity, to be in the starting lineup,” Roberts said.
Added longtime teammate Justin Turner: “Obviously this guy has ticked almost every box that can be checked in this game. I’m sure it will be the cherry on top of everything he’s been able to do.”
If Kershaw makes the team – something that Roberts sounded confident on Saturday will happen – the starting decision will be up to Atlanta manager Brian Snitkerwho will manage the NL team after the Braves won the pennant last year.
Roberts, who will join Snitker’s coaching staff, said they have not yet discussed the choice. However, “I know Brian is a fan of the game and understands the fans,” Roberts said. “So it wouldn’t surprise me if Clayton was named starter and started the game.”
On Saturday, Kershaw certainly looked dignified.
In the first inning, he bowled out the side on 15 innings, leading him to his 67th career double-figure strikeout game.
“He had a different lead tonight – and a good lead,” Roberts said. “He just came out to attack from the start.”
Over the course of four innings, Kershaw ran into a low, wiping out the only single in the second inning with a double play.
Although he is 91-92 years old. [mph with the fastball]this slider is still so unbeatable,” said the first baseman Freddy Freeman, teammates with Kershaw for the first time since playing against him for the previous dozen years. “I have seen it so much. It looks like a heater every time and it dies on you at the last second.”
Kershaw had to control damage in the fifth, giving up one run on a sacrificial fly after the Cubs (34–51) took the lead once and twice.
He gave up an unearned run in the seventh, after Patrick Wisdom doubled, stole third and scored an unearned run from a poor shortstop plate throw. Three Turnergiving the Cubs a 2-1 lead.
However, by the time Kershaw returned to the hill in the eighth round, the Dodgers (55–29) regained the lead thanks to Jake Lamb’s crucial solo home run and Freeman’s kind, two-time single. one of several other Dodgers that Roberts hopes to earn on Sunday at the All-Star Game.
“If it happens, it will happen; that would be great,” said Freeman, one of five other Dodgers that Roberts hopes will join. Mookie Betts and Turner in the game.
“If not, just go and take four days off. It’s OK. You obviously want to play well, and if all this happens, it’s just an added bonus of hanging out with some guys you can’t hang out with. But it’s not the end of the world if you don’t get on the team.
However, an All-Star Game at Dodger Stadium without Kershaw would have left a void.
Starter or not, his presence would have added to the atmosphere of Chavez’s first All-Star Game in 42 years – just as it electrified the stadium on Saturday night when he left the mound to cheering crowds hoping for his next appearance. the stadium will have a midsummer classic in less than two weeks.
“It’s cool that people care,” Kershaw said. “I’ve said this before, it just shows that I’ve been here for a long time, which is special. I don’t take it for granted to be here as long as I am. I know it will mean something to a lot of Dodger fans and it’s really cool.”