Clayton Kershaw had the Cy Young Awards and the magazine covers and All-Star acclaim and the record contract.
There was one pitching milestone that had escaped the left-hander, but no more, not after he threw his first no-hitter on Wednesday night.
Kershaw was so dominant that he came within a seventh-inning error by shortstop Hanley Ramirez of throwing a perfect game.
He settled for the Dodgers’ second no-hitter this season, striking out a career-high 15 in an 8-0 victory over the Rockies before a Dodger Stadium crowd of 46,069.
Josh Beckett threw a no-hitter for the Dodgers May 25 in Philadelphia against the Phillies. Kershaw’s was the 12th no-hitter in Los Angeles Dodgers history and 284th in Major League Baseball.
Kershaw, 26, has been on a roll for a while now. In his last four games, he has struck out 40 batters and walked only one.
His curveball kept the Rockies off balance all night, and he was still hitting 94 mph when he struck out Corey Dickerson for the last out of the game.
Kershaw (7-2) lost his bid for a perfect game when Dickerson led off the seventh with a chopper to the left of the mound. Ramirez charged and fielded the ball, but his throw on the run bounced wide of first baseman Adrian Gonzalez for an error.
It was not a particularly easy play, but it’s one Ramirez has made many times before. Apparently Ramirez thought he should have made the play. After Kershaw retired the next three Rockies, Ramirez kicked a cup in anger.
Ramirez was playing with a right ring finger bruised the previous night that nearly kept him out of the game. He was replaced for defensive purposes by Carlos Triunfel in the eighth, one inning too late.
The seventh also brought the first superb defensive play behind Kershaw. With one out, Troy Tulowitzki hit a sharp bouncer down the third-base line. Miguel Rojas fielded the ball deep behind the bag, and fired a one-hop bullet across the infield to just nip Tulowitzki.
The Dodgers tried to make it easy for Kershaw, giving him an early lead to work with, and they just kept adding to it.
The Dodgers’ early offensive efforts were aided by Rockies left-hander Jorge De La Rosa, who began the night with a career 3-9 record and a 5.74 earned-run average against the Dodgers, and then promptly made his numbers worse.
De La Rosa walked his first two batters, threw an errant pickoff for an error, and then gave up a sacrifice fly to Yasiel Puig and a run-scoring single to Matt Kemp.
The way Kershaw was going, that was all the offense he would need, but the Dodgers broke it open with a five-run third inning, every bit of damage coming after De La Rosa had recorded two outs.
He gave up a walk and run-scoring doubles by Gonzalez and Kemp, two more walks and then a bases-loaded double by Rojas to score three more.
Rojas, called up from the minors June 6, had driven in only one run in his first 22 career at-bats.
The Dodgers added one more in the fourth inning after a Ramirez single and Puig double ended the night for De La Rosa. Gonzalez greeted reliever Franklin Morales with a run-scoring single, and the Dodgers were ahead, 8-0.
In his 3 1/3 innings, De La Rosa (6-6) was charged with eight runs (seven earned) on six hits and five walks.
All happening, of course, while Kershaw was absolutely cruising.
When he struck out Dickerson to end it, he raised both fists to the sky and his teammates flooded the field.Copyright © 2015, The Baltimore Sun