Sports fans love to argue about plenty of things. When it comes to the best position player in baseball, few will give you a name other than Los Angeles Angels outfielder Mike Trout. For the best pitcher in the game, most probably say Clayton Kershaw.
While he hasn’t experienced the most postseason success in his career, the 28-year-old is there now and he dominated the Chicago Cubs in Game 2 of the last NLCS. History involves many pitchers who carried their team to a World Series championship — and Kershaw is capable of doing just that. Here are the five greatest games that “The Claw” has ever pitched.
1. June 20, 2011 vs. Detroit Tigers
In 2011, the Los Angeles Dodgers sat in fourth place at 32-41 and prepared for a June meeting with the Detroit Tigers. They were in somewhat of a transition that year, with older players such as Ted Lilly, Hiroki Kuroda, Juan Uribe, and Vicente Padilla on their way out, and young guys like Kershaw, Matt Kemp, and Dee Gordon taking on significant roles with the team. Kemp experienced an especially good season, hitting .324 with a .986 OPS and finishing second to Ryan Braun in the National League MVP voting.
Kershaw was on from the start against the Tigers, allowing just three baserunners all game, including a single to Casper Wells, as well as a walk and double by Ryan Raburn. Striking out 11 batters in nine innings, Kershaw allowed zero runs and won the game 4-0. For the Dodgers offensively, Uribe had the big blow, hitting a home run off Tigers starter Brad Penny in the fourth inning. It didn’t mean much in the standings for the Dodgers, who finished 82-79 that season, but it was an early glimpse of brilliance from young Kershaw.