If there is one man Los Angeles Dodgers can rely on to tie things up, it is Clayton Kershaw.
MLB’s top pitcher in 2014 threw his 19th winner of the season in the Dodgers 4-2 victory against National League West rivals San Francisco Giants at AT&T Park on Sunday. The star pitcher went head-to-head against Giants starter Yusmeiro Petit in a battle which ended the run-fest from the previous two games in the series, when a total of 26 runs had been chalked up.
Kershaw outclassed his opposite number with a fine eight inning outing which went for just two earned runs off seven hits, while he struck out nine batters.
Matt Kemp secured victory in the sixth inning with a two-run homer as Kershaw tied up the Giants’ batting line-up.
The Giants briefly threatened a comeback in the seventh inning when Andrew Susac sprinted home off a Matt Duffy single to make it 4-2. But such is Kershaw’s dominance this season, the Giants couldn't get any closer.
With two outs and runners on first and third, Angel Pagan could only ground out off Kershaw and after that missed opportunity the Giants didn't register another hit.
The win pushed the Dodgers lead in NL West to three games and they are now 11 games away from clinching the title outright.
The game-winning decision was given to Kershaw who became the first pitcher to reach 19 wins in 2014, as he looked to take yet another batch of pitching awards this season.
The 26-year-old won the triple crown in 2011 (most wins, most strikeouts and best ERA) and has held the best ERA in the NL for the past three seasons. The four-time All-Star also picked up the NL strikeout champion title last year and won the Cy Young award in 2011 and 2013.
This season is shaping up to be another year filled with individual honours as the pitcher leads the NL ERA race, in addition to topping the most wins chart.
San Francisco’s Madison Bumgarner, Cincinnati’s Johnny Cueto and St Louis’ Adam Wainwright all possess 18 wins this season in the National League and are hot on his tail.
Despite the continued pressure while in the spotlight, the Dodgers’ star seems to be unfazed by it. If anything, he is thriving.
According to MLB.com, Kershaw is the first Dodger to reach a 19-3 season record since Orel Hershiser in 1985. The pitcher brings his best stuff to the big occasions, especially when it comes to the Dodgers’ closest rivals.
Kershaw is 2-0 against San Francisco this year to push his lifetime record against the Giants to 13-5. What is even more impressive is his record at the home of the Giants which is 8-2 with a 0.83 ERA lifetime.
The Dodger's star pitcher continued to strengthen his credentials for an MVP award despite his season ERA rising to 1.70 after Sunday's performance.
In the entire MLB pitching league only Chicago’s Chris Sale holds an ERA below two at 1.99, which underlines Kershaw’s dominance over all the batters he's faced in 2014 and he will look to carry it into the postseason.
The Dodgers look certainties for a playoff place this year and with the finest pitcher in 2014 at their disposal, they will be a threat to any opponent come October.