Clayton Kershaw is widely regarded one of the best pitchers in baseball today, and he took his game to another level on Opening Day against the San Francisco Giants. Kershaw was pitching in a 0-0 dual against Matt Cain in the bottom of the eight inning, and took matters into his own hands as he hit his first career home run to put the Dodgers up 1-0 and spark a big eighth inning for Los Angeles that ended up seeing four runs scored.
The first amazing part of this is the fact that Kershaw lasted into the eighth inning on Opening Day, which is a rarity. Pitchers are coming out of Spring Training and their arms usually aren’t completely stretched out, so it’s not held against them if they don’t go the distance in their first start of the new season. Kershaw hasn’t yet gone the distance, but the fact that he had enough gas after 85 pitches to blast a home run 395 feet to give his team the lead.
As Vin Scully said during the Prime Ticket Dodgers broadcast, the game had the feel of not an Opening Day matchup but a playoff game and even a World Series game. Obviously it won’t ever be a World Series game between the Giants and Dodgers, but the atmosphere was intense all game long and exploded in the eighth when Kershaw hit his solo shot.
In hitting the home run, Kershaw became the first pitcher to homer on Opening Day since Joe Magrane did so back in 1988 Cardinals. Kershaw put the exclamation point on his start by going the distance and pitching his third career complete game in the shut out win over the Giants. Some pitchers take a few starts to heat up, but Kershaw has come out of the gates on fire and he’s looking to continue his tear for the Dodgers all summer long.
Kershaw has already established that he’s a force to be reckoned with on the mound, but he surprised us all by turning the tables and doing some serious damage from the plate, proving he is indeed capable of doing it all.