Clayton Kershaw’s unusually bad start wasn’t all that bad.

Clayton Kershaw

Clayton Kershaw is visited on the mound by teammates and Dodgers assistant athletic trainer Greg Harrel after being struck by a line drive in the sixth inning. (John McCoy/Staff Photographer)

Clayton Kershaw dispatched the old “didn’t have my best stuff” line tonight, which is almost plausible.

The 25-year-old left-hander, in the midst of perhaps the best season ever by a Dodgers pitcher, did something he hadn’t done since April: He was pulled before he could complete six innings.

Some other Kershaw streaks of note ended in the Dodgers’ 3-2 loss to the Chicago Cubs:

• His 16.0-inning scoreless streak ended when his former catcher, Dioner Navarro, singled home a run in the third inning.

• The five-inning start was Kershaw’s third-shortest start of the season.

• His career-high streak of 11 consecutive quality starts came to an end.

And yet, the more things change …

Kershaw’s subpar run support remained subpar. It was the 15th time in 28 starts this season that the Dodgers have scored two runs or less with their ace on the mound. (At least tonight, the Dodgers can honestly say they were up against an All-Star, and I’ll include myself in the group who forgot that Travis Wood was an All-Star this season.)

His 1.72 earned-run average, best in MLB, remained 1.72. More specifically, it actually went down from 1.7243697 to 1.7205882.

And while the Dodgers welcomed their three millionth fan of the season, the assembled sellout crowd also watched Kershaw cross the 200.0-inning threshold (204.0) for the fourth consecutive season.

So on a night when he didn’t have his best stuff, Kershaw merely continued to prove why he is so excellent. Consider that Joe Blanton has never allowed fewer than two runs in a game this season. This would have been Blanton’s high-water mark.

Instead, it was the low-water mark of Kershaw’s last four months. The sellout crowd that gave him a standing ovation was left wondering if the line drive that struck Kershaw’s left heel in the sixth inning had anything to do with his early exit.

It didn’t — Kershaw insisted after the game that he wasn’t hurt on the play — but there had to be some reason why he looked normal-human good Tuesday night.

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This entry was posted in JP on the Dodgers, Postgame thoughts and tagged , , by J.P. Hoornstra. Bookmark the permalink.

About J.P. Hoornstra

J.P. Hoornstra covers the Dodgers, Angels and Major League Baseball for the Orange County Register, Los Angeles Daily News, Long Beach Press-Telegram, Torrance Daily Breeze, San Gabriel Valley Tribune, Pasadena Star-News, San Bernardino Sun, Inland Valley Daily Bulletin, Whittier Daily News and Redlands Daily Facts. Before taking the beat in 2012, J.P. covered the NHL for four years. UCLA gave him a degree once upon a time; when he graduated on schedule, he missed getting Arnold Schwarzenegger's autograph on his diploma by five months.