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Clayton Kershaw pursues Dodgers’ all-time strikeout mark vs. Tigers

Sportsnaut
Apr 24, 2022; San Diego, California, USA; Los Angeles Dodgers starting pitcher Clayton Kershaw (22) throws a pitch against the San Diego Padres during the first inning at Petco Park. Mandatory Credit: Orlando Ramirez-USA TODAY Sports
Credit: Orlando Ramirez-USA TODAY Sports

Clayton Kershaw will take another shot at setting a franchise record on Saturday night.

His mound opponent will have a more modest aim — collecting his first major-league victory.

Kershaw can surpass Don Sutton as the Los Angeles Dodgers’ all-time strikeout leader in the second game of a three-game series against the visiting Detroit Tigers. Kershaw is in his 15th season with the Dodgers.

Los Angeles took the opener 5-1 on Friday, sending Detroit to its sixth consecutive loss.

Sutton recorded 2,696 strikeouts with L.A. during his Hall of Fame career. Kershaw (3-0, 2.65 ERA) trails Sutton by three strikeouts after notching just three in a five-inning outing against the San Diego Padres on Sunday. The 34-year-old left-hander, who has won all three of his starts, had 20 strikeouts in his first two outings this year.

“For myself to be with the Dodgers for that long and have a chance to do that is really cool,” Kershaw said. “Because it’s not some team that showed up 20 years ago. It’s been around a long time.”

The fact that he had a modest strikeout total in his road outing on Sunday allows him to try to set the mark at home.

“That’s why I didn’t strike out many guys in San Diego,” Kershaw joked. “But hopefully, it happens (Saturday).”

Sutton, who also pitched for the Houston Astros, Milwaukee Brewers, Oakland A’s and the then-California Angels, had 3,574 career strikeouts. He returned to the Dodgers in 1988 to finish his career and had 44 strikeouts that season.

Kershaw has made only two career starts against the Tigers, throwing 13 shutout innings and striking out 13.

Just four more strikeouts will put him over the top.

“I’m not one for really worrying about the individual stuff. But at the same time, it is a cool fact,” Kershaw said of the record. “I do understand that.”

The Tigers’ Beau Brieske (0-1, 5.40) will make his second career start on Saturday.

The 24-year-old right-hander debuted in the second game of a doubleheader against Colorado on Saturday. He gave up a leadoff homer to Connor Joe, then settled in. Brieske allowed just two more hits in his five-inning outing, though one hit was a two-run homer by Charlie Blackmon in the third.

Brieske was selected in the 27th round of the 2019 draft but reached the majors after just 34 minor-league appearances.

“What a great story,” Detroit manager A.J. Hinch said. “He’s earned it. So many people are rooting for him inside our dugout, outside our dugout. He should be very proud of his ascent through the minor leagues and getting this opportunity.”

Brieske now will have to deal with the Dodgers’ star-studded batting order.

“I feel like that’s the best opportunity for me to grow, get better and really meet that challenge,” Brieske said. “It gives you the best idea of where you stand and where you need to improve. It will show your weaknesses, it will show your strengths. It will give me a good idea of where I’m at.”

Brieske has long admired Kershaw.

“I even watch his starts now just to see how he goes about his game plan, the way he attacks hitters and how consistent he is with sticking to his approach,” Brieske said. “If he puts the ball where he wants to, he’s going to be fine — no matter who the hitter is.”

–Field Level Media