Kershaw caps regular season in only way he knows how
LOS ANGELES -- It's not that the postseason awards and statistical accomplishments don’t have meaning. They do.
But in Clayton Kershaw's world, the only thing that really matters is what happens from now on. It’s all about October.
In the aftermath of his final start of the regular season, an 11-0 rout of the Colorado Rockies on Friday night in which he threw six shutout innings, Kershaw stood in the near-empty Dodgers clubhouse and made it clear what he's playing for.
"Nobody remembers second place," he said. "Nobody remembers who won the American League or who won the National League. They remember who won the World Series.
"Getting to the playoffs is nice; it's definitely a huge accomplishment. But at the end of the day, unless you win that whole thing, no one remembers. That's what you play for. That's why we're here."
The Dodgers' playoff run begins next Thursday, and they learned it will start on the road, either against the Atlanta Braves or St. Louis Cardinals. But they have the best road record in the N.L. (45-36) this season, so losing home-field advantage isn't a major concern.
Before the game, manager Don Mattingly said, "We don't care who we play, and we don't care where it is."
The only significant development to come out of Friday's game was that right fielder Yasiel Puig fouled two balls off his left foot and left the game after the second one in the fifth inning. He hobbled back to the dugout and disappeared with a trainer for some ice and X-rays.
The Dodgers said X-rays were negative, although Puig probably won't play Saturday as a precaution.
The night otherwise belonged to Kershaw, who lowered his ERA to 1.83, the lowest mark in the major leagues since Pedro Martinez's 1.74 in 2000.
Kershaw, who essentially locked up his second Cy Young Award, became just the second Dodgers pitcher to finish the season with an ERA below 2.00, joining fellow left-hander Sandy Koufax, who did it three times. Kershaw will lead the majors in ERA for a third consecutive season and also leads the NL in strikeouts (232) and walks/hits per inning pitched (0.92).
"It's been amazing," Mattingly said. "There was maybe one game in there, one or two, that he was a little rough. Other than that, it seemed like it was like this every time. If we had (given) this guy some runs, he might've won 25, 26 games this year."
Kershaw (16-9) gave up more than two earned runs just once in his final 13 starts. He didn't allow a run over his final 13 innings, and when it was clear he was through for the night, teammate Juan Uribe pushed him to the top step of the dugout for a curtain call from a sellout crowd of 52,367 at Dodger Stadium.
"Before I knew what was happening," he said, "Uribe was already pushing me out the door."
It was a deserved ovation. On a night when Adrian Gonzalez drove in his 100th run and the Dodgers exploded for three homers (Gonzalez, Carl Crawford and A.J. Ellis), Kershaw enjoyed his final start before the second season begins.
Winning a third ERA title is something to relish, he said, but he's not ready to consider his milestones yet.
"I definitely try not to take that lightly," he said. "It's a huge honor obviously. But right now, there's not that much time to think back. You've just got to keep going, keep pushing forward. There will be a time to look back on everything, but now is definitely not the time."