CHICAGO — They bill Wrigley Field as “The Friendly Confines.” Clayton Kershaw has never found it to be so.
Entering Saturday’s doubleheader, Kershaw’s career ERA at Wrigley Field – 4.74 in four regular-season starts – was his highest for any ballpark where he had started more than once and it is one of only two stadiums where he has a losing record.
But he made himself comfortable in the first game of a doubleheader Saturday afternoon, holding the Chicago Cubs scoreless for the first seven innings of a 7-0 Dodgers victory.
No. Not really,” Kershaw said when asked if he felt more fondly about Wrigley Field now. “But it worked out today.”
Tyler Anderson is scheduled to start the second game against Cubs left-hander Daniel Norris.
Kershaw fairly breezed through his day in the Windy City. He needed just 66 pitches to get through the first six innings, getting an assortment of early-count outs and striking out just two.
“I’ve always been kind of a guy who gets some first-pitch outs when it’s going okay,” Kershaw said. “I do throw strikes, I think for the most part, and guys are trying to attack me early. I do throw a lot of first-pitch fastballs so at times, you get some early outs that way. Might give up some first-pitch hits here and there. But overall, I think it’s better to be aggressive and sometimes they hit it at guys.”
The Cubs didn’t even get a runner past first base in the first six innings – and could blame themselves for that.
Cubs outfielder Seiya Suzuki drew a one-out walk in the first inning and was picked off first base by Kershaw to end the inning. Suzuki reached on a single in the fourth as well and was erased when Yan Gomes bounced into a double play.
But Nico Hoerner was guilty of the day’s most Cub-alicious baserunning mistake.
With two outs in the second, Hoerner chopped a ground ball to shortstop Trea Turner. Turner charged and tried to make a bare-handed play but his throw was up the line and got past Freddie Freeman at first base.
Hoerner casually turned and started trotting to second base, assuming the ball had gone out of play. It hadn’t. The ball had bounced off the wall in front of the photo well near the Dodgers’ dugout. Freeman retrieved it and threw to second baseman Gavin Lux who tagged Hoerner out to end the inning.
Saturday was the 63rd time in his career Kershaw has gone at least seven scoreless innings in a start, the second time in five starts this season. His ERA this year is 1.80 with a 0.73 WHIP, lowest among National League starters.
“He’s just got a good feel for pitching,” Dodgers catcher Austin Barnes said of Kershaw’s start. “He knows how to navigate through a lineup pretty well. He feels the game out. What makes him so good — his stuff is obviously really good, but his feel for pitching is really, really good. So he has an ability to be repeatable and feel out what the hitter is trying to do.”
Barnes and Freeman powered the Dodgers’ offense. Freeman became the first Dodgers player to have three doubles in a game at Wrigley Field. Barnes drove in three runs with a solo home run and a two-run single. He has three home runs and five RBI in just eight games this year.
“I’ve done the sporadic ABs for a few years now,” Barnes said. “In between you’ve got to not overthink. You’ve got to kind of take it day by day. Sometimes you get in there and you get going too fast. I just tried to slow it down today, put some easy swings on it and it worked out.”
Still mired in a 2-for-20 slump that has dragged his average down to .184, Justin Turner drove in two runs with a double off Cubs reliever Robert Gsellman that left his bat at 107.7 mph, his hardest-hit ball this season.