It's with good reason then that Mattingly doesn't expect a letdown against the host Kansas City Royals on Tuesday night, when Kershaw takes the mound for the first time since tossing one of the most dominant no-hitters in history.Kershaw (7-2, 2.52 ERA) allowed one baserunner due to an error in the seventh inning of an 8-0 victory over Colorado on Wednesday. The two-time and reigning NL Cy Young Award winner struck out 15, the third-highest total in a no-hitter.Since giving up seven runs in 1 2/3 innings of an 18-7 loss to Arizona on May 17, Kershaw has allowed that same amount in 42 innings while going 5-1 in his last six starts.That level of dominance is why the Dodgers gave the left-hander a seven-year, $215 million extension in January to make him the richest pitcher in major league history."All the guys sit and watch, and you listen to them and they'll say that nobody deserves this more than him," Mattingly said. "He works hard every day. He does everything right. He's a great teammate. The two Cy Youngs don't even get in the way. It's just so nice to watch someone like that (throw a no-hitter)."Kershaw's encore comes against a Kansas City team that ended a four-game losing streak with a 5-3 victory in the series opener Monday. Jarrod Dyson went 3 for 3 with two RBIs and a pair of stolen bases.Salvador Perez homered while Lorenzo Cain and Alcides Escobar each drove in a run. Escobar is hitting .380 in his last 21, raising his average from .259 to .291.The offense was welcomed after the Royals had totaled 10 runs over their previous five. They have a 2.89 ERA in their last six."It's a funny game," manager Ned Yost said. "We strung some hits together along with some outstanding pitching we've had the last five or six starts. It's a big win for us."The Royals (40-36) won for the first time since their winning streak reached 10 on June 18. Their skid began with a 2-1 loss to Detroit the following day despite Danny Duffy's solid effort.Duffy (4-6, 2.80) has been stellar of late, going 2-1 with a 1.75 ERA over his last four starts. After striking out nine in seven scoreless innings of a 9-1 win over the Chicago White Sox on June 14, he gave up two runs and three hits in seven innings against the Tigers.Following Duffy's most recent outing, Yost made it clear that he believes the left-hander has fully recovered from Tommy John surgery that kept him out most of last season and forced him to come out of the bullpen to start 2014."They keep asking, 'Has Duffy arrived? Is Duffy there yet?'" Yost said. "After (Thursday), I'm like, 'OK, I think he's there,' because his last four or five starts have been really, really good."Duffy has never faced the Dodgers (42-36), winners of five of six prior to Monday's defeat. Hanley Ramirez drove in two runs, and Matt Kemp is hitting .395 during an 11-game hitting streak after going 1 for 4 for the fourth straight day.Yasiel Puig went hitless and is 0 for 10 over his last three following a six-game hit streak. He hasn't homered in 23 games.
Clayton Kershaw's start last night lowered his ERA to 2.24, and gave him 11.7 K per 9 IP this season. He's not yet qualified for the ERA title, but once he is, he has a chance to join Pedro Martinez and Randy Johnson as pitchers with at least 11 K per 9 IP and an ERA under 2.50 since 2000.
With his win over the Royals tonight, Clayton Kershaw has won his last 5 starts, matching the longest streak of his career (won 5 straight from July 7-August 8 in 2011).
Opposing hitters are hitting .171 against Clayton Kershaw's curveball this season, which is 55 points below the average among pitchers with at least five starts. The Royals are batting .199 as a team against curveballs this season, which ranks 24th in MLB.