Kershaw was at his dominant best in a complete-game 5-0 win over the Philadelphia Phillies at Dodger Stadium, adding to his major league-leading strikeout total and getting his ERA under 3.00 for the first time this season. Kind of sounds like a good All-Star case, doesn't it?
How it happened: Two struggling veterans took it upon themselves to finally get Kershaw some runs to work with after a brutal four-week drought when he went 0-3 despite a 2.67 ERA. Jimmy Rollins came into the game batting .209, but the arrival of the Phillies – the team he starred for as the starting shortstop from 2001 to 2014 – seems to have energized him. Rollins clubbed a leadoff double and scored ahead of A.J. Ellis’ home run in the second inning and smashed a three-run shot of his own an inning later. Ellis was an even unlikelier contributor given his scant playing time, .187 average before the game and lack of a home run. In addition to getting off that schneid, he also had two singles.
The past month and a half, Kershaw has pitched much more like the MVP winner of 2014 and less like the guy who was sometimes missing spots and cursed with bad luck early this season. So a five-run lead, especially against the last-place Phillies, was more than enough. Kershaw struck out 13 Phillies in eight innings and pitched expertly out of a couple of jams. The complete game was Kershaw's first this season.
What it means: The Dodgers erased the bad vibes from Tuesday, when they played one of their sloppiest games of the year, and fortified Kershaw’s All-Star candidacy in the Final Vote competition.
Notable: Is there bad blood percolating between these teams? Phillies starter Adam Morgan hit Justin Turner in the leg with a pitch in the first inning and, the next inning, Kershaw hit Carlos Ruiz with a fastball after he had struck out Jeff Francoeur to start the inning. Maybe it was a coincidence, but five batters have been hit with pitches in the first two games of the series: three Dodgers and two Phillies. … Against the lefty, Don Mattingly inserted Yasiel Puig back in the leadoff spot to try to ignite his slumping bat. It didn’t work. Puig hit one hard shot to center field – Odubel Herrera made an awkward, lunging catch – but Puig was 0-for-4 and he’s batting .152 in his last 12 games. … Ellis' previous three-hit game came on July 4, 2014. ... The team designated lefty Eric Surkamp for assignment before the game so it could select the contract of reliever Chin-hui Tsao, who was not on the 40-man roster.
Up next: The teams conclude the four-game series Thursday at 7:10 p.m. PT. Zack Greinke (7-2, 1.48 ERA) can strengthen his candidacy to start Tuesday’s All-Star game with a strong start. The Dodgers will face Phillies right-hander Severino Gonzalez (3-2, 8.28 ERA).