Kershaw's ERA to 1.83 with gem in final start
Dodgers' NL Cy Young hopeful cruises to 16th victory in LA
By Austin Laymance /9/28/2013 2:43 AM ET
LOS ANGELES -- Clayton Kershaw doesn't like the comparisons to Sandy Koufax, but there's really no other pitcher who matches what Kershaw means to the Dodgers.
With six easy innings on Friday night in an 11-0 win over the Rockies at a sold-out Dodger Stadium, Kershaw finished the 2013 campaign with a 1.83 ERA to join Koufax as the only Dodgers starters to end a season with a mark under 2.00.
"It's been an amazing season," said Dodgers manager Don Mattingly. "I think he had one or two games where he was a little rough. Other than that, it seemed like it was like this every time."
Carl Crawford launched a three-run homer, A.J. Ellis homered and drove in three runs, Adrian Gonzalez added a solo shot and Juan Uribe and Mark Ellis each had three hits and two RBIs in support of Kershaw, who notched his 16th victory in his final start before Game 1 of the National League Division Series on Thursday.
About the only thing that went wrong for the Dodgers was Yasiel Puig twice fouling pitches off his left shin and coming out of the game after five innings. But X-rays were negative of major injury, and Mattingly said he thinks the rookie will be OK.
Kershaw struck out eight and walked none, putting the finishing touches on a memorable season that more than likely will result in the left-hander's second NL Cy Young Award in three years. He has the lowest ERA in baseball, leads the Majors with a 0.92 WHIP and is first in the NL with 232 strikeouts.
"I don't think there's a whole lot of doubt there," Rockies manager Walt Weiss said of Kershaw's bid for a second NL Cy Young. "He's had a great year. Command and stuff, he puts them both together. And there's some deception. He's the complete package, and he's left-handed on top of it. He's as good as there is in our league."
Kershaw isn't ready to reflect on his outstanding regular season, though.
"Enjoy this one tonight, and tomorrow it's all about the playoffs," Kershaw said. "I'm looking forward to it. It's where we've wanted to go and time to get prepared for it. It's what you play for."
By virtue of the Cardinals' win over the Cubs on Friday, the Dodgers will open the NLDS on the road against either Atlanta or St. Louis, whichever finishes with the second-best record. No matter where they play, the Dodgers like their chances with Kershaw and Zack Greinke leading the rotation.
"You're as good as you can be going in with these guys," Mattingly said. "You never know what's going to happen in the playoffs, but you feel pretty good when you're putting those guys out there in Game 1 and Game 2."
Kershaw set a career-high with 236 innings pitched this season. But after making 82 pitches on Friday, Kershaw said he "feels great" heading into October.
Koufax had three seasons with an ERA below 2.00, but was 27 years old and in his ninth year in the Majors when he first accomplished the feat in 1963. Kershaw is 25 and in his sixth season in the big leagues.
In addition to joining Koufax in Dodgers history, Kershaw is the first pitcher to lead the Majors in ERA for three straight years since Greg Maddux (1993-95). Kershaw posted a 2.53 ERA last season and had a 2.28 mark in 2011.
"I definitely try not to take that lightly," Kershaw said. "It's a huge honor, obviously. But right now, there's not that much time to think back. You've just got to keep going and keep pushing forward. There will be a time to look back on everything. But now is definitely not the time."
Kershaw even flashed a rare smile during a curtain call in the bottom of the sixth, when he was removed for a pinch-hitter and the video board in right field displayed his 1.83 ERA, the lowest for a Major League starter since Pedro Martinez (1.74) in 2000.
"I didn't know what was going on," Kershaw said. "By the time I figured it out, Uribe had pushed me up the steps. It was definitely a nice gesture."
In another rare occurrence, Kershaw had a four-run lead after one inning.
"If we could get this guy some runs, he may have won 25, 26 games this year," Mattingly said. "If we would have done anything for him offensively early on, he would have been winning every time out it seemed like."
The Dodgers increased their lead with homers in three straight innings.
Gonzalez went deep to right in the third to reach 100 RBIs for the sixth season in his career, joining Tigers sluggers Miguel Cabrera and Prince Fielder as the only players to drive in at least 100 runs six or more times in the last seven years.
Crawford roped a three-run blast to right in the fourth, his sixth homer of the season and first since May 6.
A.J. Ellis continued the barrage with a two-run shot to left-center in the fifth, becoming the sixth Dodger with at least 10 homers this season.
Carlos Marmol, Chris Capuano and Brandon League each tossed scoreless innings in relief of Kershaw. For Capuano, it was his first appearance in a game since coming out of a start Sept. 6 with a strained left groin.