Regardless of the drastic difference in records between the Los Angeles Angels and L.A. Dodgers, the Freeway Series has always managed to be a competitive environment. On Friday night in Anaheim, Clayton Kershaw ensured that wouldn’t be the case.
It was a perfect storm of a Hall of Fame pitcher having his best stuff, and a team missing their best player — Mike Trout — that was already struggling with offensive production. The result was a 9-1 Dodgers victory and six outs away from MLB history for Kershaw.
Kershaw took a perfect game — what could have been the 24th such outing in league history — into the eighth inning. Luis Rengifo broke up that perfection with a leadoff double in the eighth, spoiling the Dodgers party, but not influencing the final result of the game.
This is the second time this season that Kershaw has been perfect through seven innings, the first time in over 40 years that a pitcher has done that two times in one campaign. Following the game, Kershaw credited his defense, saying that he wanted to complete the perfect game for his teammates, according to Jeff Fletcher of The O.C. Register:
“Honestly I should’ve given up four or five hits before they got that hit in the eighth there,” Kershaw said. “The defense played unbelievable tonight. JT. Trea. They lined out right to some guys. Hanser made a great play. Just a lot of unbelievable plays all the way around.”
“I really wanted to do it. It would’ve been really fun for everybody involved, the way everybody played tonight. Offense was unbelievable.”
Angels interim manager Phil Nevin had nothing but praise for Kershaw, saying there’s very little a struggling team can do when a pitcher of his caliber has his best stuff.
“He’s a future Hall of Famer and he had his stuff working tonight against a team that hasn’t been swinging the bats very well,” Angels manager Phil Nevin said. “You tip your cap on a night like that. You could tell from the beginning he had a few pitches that were really working for him and he never strayed away from them.”
This is the second time in three games against the Dodgers this season that the Angels have not recorded a hit until after the seventh inning. In their last Freeway Series, Tyler Anderson took a no-hitter into the ninth before a Shohei Ohtani triple broke things up.
It’s unsurprising, though, as the Angels have been one of the league’s worst offenses over their last 45 games. Meanwhile, the Dodgers have statistically the best starting rotation in the Major Leagues. The combination lends itself to moments of history from the starters in blue, especially from a pitcher as historically elite as Kershaw.
On Saturday night, the Angels have one more chance to put up a respectable effort against the Dodgers for this season. Going 0-4 in the Freeway Series would not just be a disappointment in the record books, but it would be a stark departure from year’s past, when the Angels have always found a way to make the Dodgers work.
Nevin praises Detmers despite loss
On Thursday night, Reid Detmers managed to put together a high-quality performance despite allowing four baserunners before recording an out. He gave up two runs in the first inning, then proceeded to toss five scoreless frames, leading to a really strong start that gave the Angels a chance to win.