By Asa Schuster
After a physically taxing holiday to Australia and using May as an extended preseason, Clayton Kershaw finally shook off the lingering effects of jet lag and started earning the paychecks of his $22 million season during a dominant June.
Despite the Los Angeles Dodgers taking extra precautions to curb the impact of the long-haul flights across the Pacific Ocean for their season opening series in Sydney in March, the whole process left Kershaw with a sore left shoulder.
Kershaw was inactive in April and 2-2 in May, but perked up for his start on June 2 when he went eight digs deep (97 pitches) with nine strikeouts to lead the Dodgers to a 5-2 win over the White Sox.
Six days later, he was credited with a complete game for his rain-shortened five-inning effort (nine strikeouts again) that saw LA beat the Rockies 6-1 at Coors Field.
He followed that short outing by striking out seven over seven-innings in a 4-3 win over the Diamondbacks.
Aaron Hill’s RBI double in the third dig would be the last run Kershaw would give up in the month.
In his next start, Kerhsaw crafted a no-hitter against the Rockies that was just a seventh-inning Hanley Ramírez throwing error away from being a perfect game.
Kershaw fanned 15 (career-high) during the course of his 107-pitch masterpiece, earning a 102 ‘game score’ on the Bill James baseball nerd scale.
The Royals were his next victim, getting a taste of 108 pitches over eight scoreless frames to see the Dodgers triumph 2-0.
He then capped the month with seventh scoreless digs on 109 pitches as part of a 6-0 victory against the Cardinals.
Kershaw ran his scoreless run to 28 innings, while leading the Majors with 61 strikeouts in June with just four runs and four walks to go along with an 0.82 ERA and restricting hitters to just .165 from the plate.
Cincinnati’s Todd Frazier and Pittsburgh’s Andrew McCutchen put in work in the NL Central in June, but as the Dodgers surged in the NL West from three games below .500 to 11 games above, they were carried in part on the sturdy and well-compensated shoulders of the meanest vato in baseball.