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Clayton Kershaw hits a home run, twirls a shutout on opening day

By Mike Axisa | Baseball Writer

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With all due respect to Bryce Harper, who had a pretty great day of his own, Clayton Kershaw just turned in the best performance of opening day so far. The Dodgers' ace hit a solo homer and pitched a complete-game shutout against the rival Giants on Monday afternoon.

Kershaw, 25, hit the homer on George Kontos' first pitch of the eighth inning. The game was scoreless at the time, so it wasn't a cheap tack-on homer or anything. It was pretty big. The Dodgers went on to score three more runs in the inning, but it was Kershaw who helped his own cause and give the club the lead. The blast was his first career homer.

On the mound, the southpaw struck out seven and walked zero in those nine scoreless innings. He allowed only four singles, and one of those base runners was erased on a caught stealing. Pablo Sandoval reached second base on a wild pitch with two outs in the first, but otherwise no Giant made it beyond first base. Most impressively, Kershaw needed only 94 pitches in the win.

The Dodgers and Giants have been discussing a long-term contract extension in recent weeks, and it's easy to understand why. The 2011 NL Cy Young Award winner is pretty clearly the best left-handed pitcher in baseball at this point, and at his age he should still have many more years of elite production ahead of him. Justin Verlander just signed a record $180 million contract, but Kershaw figures to push $200 million. What a monster.

 
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