Some have called Dodgers lefty Clayton Kershaw’s last outing the greatest single game ever pitched in baseball history.
It’s not definitive. It can’t be, but there’s little doubt that Kershaw’s first career no-hitter Wednesday against the Rockies at Chavez Ravine was a rare gem.
Only a Hanley Ramirez throwing error on a seventh-inning grounder by Chris Dickerson stood between Kershaw and a perfect game.
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Dickerson proved to be the only base runner in a 107-pitch symphony of mid-90s fastballs, hammer curves and sweeping sliders.
Kershaw takes the mound again for the first time Tuesday at Kauffman Stadium.
“We know we’re getting his first outing after that, but I think it’s a good thing,” Royals designated hitter Billy Butler said. “That means he’s due to give up a few hits.”
Obviously, the Royals are aware that Kershaw — the 2011 and 2013 National League Cy Young Award winner who has led the NL in ERA three consecutive seasons — is coming off a performance for the ages.
They just don’t want to think about it.
“No, I don’t think about that,” shortstop Alcides Escobar said. “Every start is a different team, a different stadium — everything’s different. We’re seeing the ball well and want to continue to play hard.”
So Kershaw’s no-hitter won’t be on the Royals’ minds when the game begins.
“It doesn’t affect me one bit,” outfielder Lorenzo Cain said. “When he comes to this ballpark, we’re going to do the best we can to put up as many runs as possible against him. We’ll see what happens.
“You know he’s one of the top pitchers in the game and it’s going to be a tough day, but even the best pitchers can miss their spots and they can leave pitches over the heart of the plate like anyone else. When they do, we’ve just got to jump on them and make sure we’re ready to go and swing the bats.”
Certainly the Royals will get the chance to do that. Kershaw threw 79 strikes among those 107 pitches last time out, including a first-pitch strike to 21 of 28 batters, and only reached one three-ball count.