It would have been arrogant to say so at the time so Don Mattingly kept it to himself. But the Dodgers manager admitted Saturday that winning a division championship wasn't the only thing on his to-do list heading into the season. To Mattingly when the Dodgers clinched a postseason berth was almost as important as the clinching itself. And securing one with nine games to go as the Dodgers did Thursday in Arizona was exactly what he had in mind "One of our goals coming out of spring training was to … set ourselves up where we could do what we're doing. To be able to set our pitching up the way we wanted" Mattingly said. "If a guy needed a day he could get it. So we've accomplished that much of it." Judging from the early results Mattingly's plan is working perfectly with well-rested left-hander Clayton Kershaw pitching for the first time in a week turning in a spectacular effort Saturday to beat the San Diego Padres 4-0. And in Kershaw's case the numbers tell the story. By shutting out the Padres on three hits through seven innings he lowered his earned-run average to a major league-best 1.88 with one regular-season start remaining keeping him on track to become only the second Dodger to finish with an ERA below 2.00 since the team moved to Los Angeles and the first since Sandy Koufax in 1966. He is also on pace to become the first pitcher since Greg Maddux to lead the majors in ERA in three consecutive seasons. And with 10 strikeouts Kershaw (15-9) upped his league-leading total to 224 leaving him in line to win his second strikeout title in three seasons. "I don't really think about that stuff" Kershaw said. "It's especially hard during the season because we have so much left to play for. "I definitely don't take it for granted but it's something I don't really think about a whole lot." But there's one number Mattingly is concerned with: 230 the number of innings Kershaw has pitched this season. That too leads the majors and is only 31/3 innings shy of his career high.
Dodgers' Kershaw tunes up for playoffs with 4-0 victory over Padres
Los Angeles Times | Sep 22