LOS ANGELES – A pair of Cy Young Awards, three straight major league ERA titles, a 20-win season — and now a no-hitter.
There isn’t much more for Dodgers ace Clayton Kershaw to accomplish besides winning a World Series ring.
Kershaw dominated the Colorado Rockies on Wednesday night, striking out a career-high 15 and allowing his only baserunner on a throwing error by shortstop Hanley Ramirez in Los Angeles’ 8-0 victory.
Kershaw’s gem gave the Dodgers both no-hitters in the majors this season. Josh Beckett tossed one May 25 in Philadelphia.
“I am so amazed,” Kershaw said. “Beckett told me he was going to teach me how to do that, so I have Josh to thank.”
Cheered on by his wife in the stands, Kershaw (7-2) retired his first 18 batters before Corey Dickerson led off the seventh with a slow bouncer to Ramirez. His throw on the run went wide past first baseman Adrian Gonzalez for a two-base error — ending any chance for a perfect game.
But that was it for the Rockies against the 26-year-old Kershaw, who shrugged off the miscue and came oh-so-close to pitching the 22nd perfecto in the majors since 1900.
“He had command of everything. I told him between innings: ‘It’s not fair when you have a devastating slider and a devastating curveball in the same night,” Dodgers catcher A.J. Ellis said. “And when he does that, nights like this are really possible.”
One batter after Dickerson reached base, rookie third baseman Miguel Rojas backhanded Troy Tulowitzki’s grounder behind the bag and let fly with a strong throw to first that Gonzalez — a three-time Gold Glove winner — scooped out of the dirt to keep the no-hitter intact.
And with the crowd of 46,069 on its feet and roaring, Kershaw made quick work of the Rockies in the ninth.
DJ LeMahieu grounded out to first base on the first pitch and Charlie Culberson hit a lazy fly to right field on the next one. Dickerson then saw four straight strikes and went down swinging.
The only pitcher to have more strikeouts in a no-hitter was Hall of Famer Nolan Ryan, according to STATS.
“I’ve seen some great pitching performances, but it’s tough to be any better than Kershaw,” Colorado manager Walt Weiss said.
After his 107th and final pitch, a beaming Kershaw raised his arms above his head and waited for a huge hug from Ellis.
“I started tearing up out there in the ninth inning, just sitting out there catching and watching him throw after he got those first two outs,” Ellis said. “It was pretty special.”
“It’s something you never forget,” he added. “It’s a game I’ll watch on replays with my kids forever.”
Moments later, as he was about to be interviewed on the field, Kershaw was doused by teammates with two large buckets. The left-hander with the big-breaking curve also got a big hug from his wife.
Kershaw, who signed a $215 million, seven-year contract in the off-season — a record for a pitcher — gave Los Angeles sports fans their second memorable thrill in just a few days.
The Kings won the Stanley Cup at home last Friday night, their second NHL championship in three years, and brought the famous trophy to Dodger Stadium on Tuesday for a pregame ceremony.
The next night, Kershaw took over.
The only other time the Dodgers pitched two no-hitters in one season was 1956, when the team was still in Brooklyn. Carl Erskine and Sal Maglie turned the trick that year.
Hall of Famer Sandy Koufax, who tossed four no-hitters, pitched the franchise’s lone perfect game on Sept. 9, 1965, against the Chicago Cubs.
“I guess I haven’t really thought of the ramifications of throwing one of these things, but it’s definitely special company,” Kershaw said. “It’s pretty cool.”
Ramirez was back in the lineup after leaving Tuesday night’s game with a bruised ring finger on his throwing hand, the result of a sharp grounder by Dickerson than deflected into short centre field for a double.
Ramirez was replaced on defence by rookie Carlos Triunfel to start the eighth.
Kershaw missed more than six weeks early this year because of a strained muscle in his upper back, after beating Arizona in the season opener during the Dodgers’ two-game trip to Australia.
It was the 22nd no-hitter in Dodgers history — more than any other team — and the first at home since Ramon Martinez’s 2-0 gem against the Marlins on July 14, 1995.
“His stuff was phenomenal tonight. I think all the guys said that. We tip our hats to him,” Dickerson said.
The day after Beckett’s no-hitter, teammate Hyun-Jin Ryu took a perfect game into the eighth inning against Cincinnati before giving up a leadoff double to Todd Frazier.
“As far as individual games go, this is really special. To do it at home is more amazing,” Kershaw said before looking up and thanking the crowd.
Kershaw received a standing ovation when he came to bat in the eighth, and another one minutes later after finishing the job against one of baseball’s top lineups.
Playing their home games at hitter-friendly Coors Field, the Rockies began the day leading the majors in batting average, hits, total bases, on-base percentage and slugging percentage. They were first in the NL in runs and homers.
“There are some guys in that lineup that give him fits,” Ellis acknowledged. “But the way he made those guys look tonight was a testament to how good his stuff was. He was pretty dialed in and pretty locked in — especially as the game progressed.”
Rojas also supported Kershaw with his bat, hitting a three-run double while continuing to fill in for injured third baseman Juan Uribe. Gonzalez and Matt Kemp each drove in two runs, helping the Dodgers complete their first three-game sweep at home this season.
Jorge De La Rosa (6-6) threw 86 pitches over 3 1-3 innings and was charged with eight runs, six hits and five walks. The left-hander is 0-3 with an 8.19 ERA in his last four starts after going 6-0 with a 1.80 ERA during his previous seven outings.
NOTES: Ryan threw a record seven no-hitters. He whiffed 17 batters in one of them, 16 in another and 15 in yet another. Warren Spahn (15) and Don Wilson (15) were the only other pitchers with 15 strikeouts in a no-hitter, STATS said. … San Francisco LHP Jonathan Sanchez was the previous pitcher to throw a no-hitter with the only baserunner reaching on an error, in July 2009 against San Diego, STATS said. … The last time the Rockies were held hitless, it was by Dodgers pitcher Hideo Nomo on Sept. 17, 1996. The only other no-hitter against Colorado was pitched by Al Leiter of the Marlins four months earlier.