Completing the first no-hitter of his career on Wednesday night, Dodgers pitcher Clayton Kershaw was as dominant during such a performance as any pitcher had been in the past two decades.
Still, when you talk to his battery mate A.J. Ellis about the dominance of Kershaw, there is another performance that comes to mind.
The Dodgers catcher rewinds to Opening Day 2013 when the Dodgers were hosting the Giants.
That day, like Wednesday night, Kershaw exuded sheer brilliance. His line that day: nine innings, four hits, no runs, no walks, seven strikeouts.
And for good measure he did it with his bat as well. Kershaw blasted an eighth inning home run, the first of his career, to break a scoreless tie, effectively kick starting a four-run eighth for the Dodgers in a 4-0 Opening Day win.
Kershaw became the first pitcher to homer and pitch a shutout on Opening Day since 1953.
At the time, Ellis compared the day to a “passing of the torch” with Dodgers great Sandy Koufax throwing the ceremonial first pitch that day and Kershaw, throwing the last.
However, even still in the moment, Ellis was able to appreciate Wednesday night’s events.
“When I go back and think about this game and look at it and think about the way his breaking balls were reacting and the way the hitters were reacting to him this one would definitely be at the top, if not all the way,” Ellis said. “He had the best curveball and best slider, together, on the same night and that’s what creates that no-hit stuff.
“When he got those breaking balls going like that and the command he had of it and the ability to throw for strikes or the accountability to shorten it and throw it below the zone for two strikes makes my job back there pretty easy and just doing your best to miss the barrel and he didn’t make many mistakes all night either.”
Chris Carlson-AP Photo
Kershaw delivers masterpiece all of baseball knew was coming
Kershaw used breaking pitches to effectively record 14 of his 15 strikeouts Wednesday night.
Here’s a closer look at how Kershaw’s dominance during his no-hitter Wednesday night ranks among others in MLB history:
You have to go back to 1997 to the last pitcher who threw a no-hitter without issuing a walk. That was Kevin Brown as a member of the then-Florida Marlins.
One would have to go all the way back to 1970 for the last Dodger to do it. That was Bill Singer.
No Dodger has ever had more than 15 strikeouts in a no-hitter, making Kershaw’s 15 on Wednesday the most in team history.
No pitcher has thrown more strikeouts in a no-hitter in all of baseball since 1991 when Nolan Ryan retired 16 via the strikeout.
Ryan also holds the record for most strikeouts in a no-hitter when he punched out 17 Tigers as a member of the Angels in 1973.