Dodgers' Clayton Kershaw Pitched The Most Dominant No-Hitter Ever
Dodgers ace Clayton Kershaw took to the mound last night, with his beard more bushy than before, and reminded the world of something that was already self-evident in the majority of his starts: that he is unquestionably the greatest pitcher in the world.
Effortlessly using 107 pitches, it took him just under three hours to no-hit the Colorado Rockies and further secure his immortalization into the annals of baseball history. Kershaw reached a career-high 15 strikeouts on the last out of the game. The only thing that stood between him and perfection was a throwing error by shortstop Hanley Ramirez in the seventh inning that allowed a batter to reach base safely. Leave it to a shortstop who was never that good at defense in the first place to ruin what could've been something even more special:
Sure, Nolan Ryan threw two (of his career seven) no-hitters with more strikeouts, and it wasn't an actual perfect game where no batters ever reach base safely. But you'd be hard pressed to find a more dominant performance ever. Nolan Ryan walked a handful of batters in each of those two games (walks were always the one knock against Ryan), and it seems like most perfect games require a miracle play on defense to ensure they go unblemished. But Kershaw walked nobody, and the biggest defensive play of the night was "great," but not miraculous. Only two batters after Ramirez committed his error, Miguel Rojas snagged a grounder at third base and made a long throw to get Troy Tulowitzki. All credit due to Rojas, but frankly, we've seen far better and more difficult plays from third basemen:
Oh, that curveball! A pitch so filthy Vin Scully dubbed it Public Enemy No. 1. His hammer was as sharp as usual, as he peppered in 18 curves amongst his 107 pitches, using it to get six of his 15 strikeouts.
Kershaw practically did it all himself. Over half of his 27 outs came on the strikeout, taking the seven defenders behind him out of the equation, and none of the batted balls he gave up were on good contact (only three made it into the outfield, on lazy fly balls). Going by Bill James's game score statistic (not a perfect stat, but it'll do the trick), Kershaw is second only to Kerry Wood's 20-strikeout game and just ahead of Dodger legend Sandy Koufax's perfect game. As Fangraphs put it, it was "The Most Perfect Non-Perfect Game." Even if he fell short of perfection, fewer have been more dominant. Kershaw was so good, it was downright pornographic.
There was an air of inevitability last night at Chavez Ravine. As if this was the moment we'd all be waiting for ever since he learned to throw a slider in the middle of 2009, allowing him to transition from being another raw lefty into the second coming of Koufax. This isn't to say that every elite pitcher is bound to throw a no-hitter—Clemens, Maddux, and Carlton never threw one—but in an era with dampened offenses and rising strikeout rates it felt like it was Kershaw's destiny. How appropriate it was, then, that #22 would throw the 22nd no-hitter in Dodgers' history, less than a month after his teammate Josh Beckett pitched his own.
"I always say you can call your friends. But now, you can text your friends, or 'hashtag Kershaw' or something," Vin Scully said last night in the late innings, imploring fans at home to spread the news that something special was happening at Dodger Stadium. It's a shame that most people couldn't tune in.
Don't know if this will ever sink in. What an amazing night. Thankful to celebrate with the fans in LA.— Clayton Kershaw (@ClaytonKersh22) June 19, 2014