Clayton Kershaw cemented his position as front runner for the National League’s MVP and Cy Young award after another stunning performance for the Dodgers in their 4-1 victory over the Washington Nationals last night.
The 26-year-old lowered his season ERA to just 1.70 after throwing eight innings for a single run and Kershaw was given the game-winning performance – his 17th this season – to move him alone at the top of the most wins table in MLB.
The win maintained the Dodgers' (78-61) two game lead over San Francisco Giants (76-63) at the top of the National League West division.
The Nationals (78-59) held on to their seven game advantage in the NL East after nearest rivals Atlanta (72-67) also slipped to defeat.
Second triple crown on the cards
Kershaw, who was NL ERA and strikeout champion last year, has the very real possibility of clinching a second Triple Crown.
The Triple Crown is awarded when a pitcher tops the table for the best ERA, strikeouts and wins tally which Kershaw achieved in 2011.
According to MLB.com, after Tuesday’s performance the starting pitcher leads both the ERA and wins competitions in the entire MLB but is seventh in the MLB strikeout league, 30 behind leader David Price of the Detroit Tigers.
Strasburg a contender
Although the MLB Triple Crown looks unlikely, the NL Triple Crown is realistic for Kershaw as he sits just eight strikeouts behind the NL leader Steven Strasburg of the Nationals.
Kershaw also won the Cy Young award in 2011 and 2013 which is voted for by members of the Baseball Writers Association of America and the 26-year-old is hot favourite to take the award home for a third time at the end of the season.
The Dodgers victory over the Nationals on Wednesday night also saw Kenley Jansen throw his 39th save of the season in the ninth inning after Kershaw had exited.
Uribe back for the Dodgers
Another highlight for the Dodgers was Juan Uribe’s two-run homer in the sixth to mark his return from the disabled list.
His hit, a line drive down left field, saw Los Angeles take a 4-0 lead after solid teamwork by the Dodgers in the fifth earned them a deserved lead.
The Nationals were unable to respond due to the control of Kershaw’s pitching and only Bryce Harper scored with a solo homer in the seventh inning.
Harper, who hit his fourth homer in five games, paid his congratulations to Kershaw after the game.
Speaking to MLB.com, Harper said: “He is the best pitcher in baseball, hands down. He goes out there and locates his pitches. He has his fastball, curveball, changeup and slide. He is very, very good.”
If Kershaw continues this into the post-season, he could achieve another Triple Crown along with a clean sweep of awards in 2014.