Game 1 of the Los Angeles Dodgers' doubleheader against the Chicago Cubs on Tuesday did not get off on the right foot for the defending World Series champions. Rather, left-hander Clayton Kershaw made the wrong kind of personal history by recording the shortest start of his storied career.
Kershaw, who was making his 361st regular-season start, labored through just one inning of work before being removed in favor of Dennis Santana. Kershaw faced nine batters, allowing four runs on four hits (including a bases-loaded double by David Bote) and a pair of walks. He did strike out two batters, including the leadoff hitter, but he required 39 pitches to get through the frame.
It's worth noting that Kershaw's velocity was down compared to his seasonal average by more than a full mile per hour on all of his pitches, according to Statcast.
Coming into play on Tuesday, Kershaw had never recorded fewer than four outs in a start. In fact, he'd worked fewer than four innings on only 13 occasions. Coincidentally, his previous shortest start also occurred on May 4, albeit in 2010. With that in mind, here are the five shortest starts of Kershaw's career:
- May 4, 2021: 1 IP, 4 ER vs. Cubs
- May 4, 2010: 1 1/3 IP, 7 ER vs. Brewers
- May 17, 2014: 1 2/3 IP, 7 ER vs. Diamondbacks
- July 23, 2017: 2 IP, 0 ER vs. Braves (back injury)
- Aug. 28, 2008: 2 1/3 IP, 5 ER vs. Nationals
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Entering Tuesday's start, Kershaw had been on a roll to begin the season. In his first six starts, he had posted a 2.09 ERA and a 7.80 strikeout-to-walk ratio while averaging just over six innings per pop.