Clayton Kershaw’s near-perfect night propels Dodgers past Angels

The Angels and Dodgers renewed their Southern California rivalry in the opener of a two-game Freeway Series Friday night in Anaheim.

They weren’t two ships that passed in the night.

The Dodgers are a frigate heading for their ninth National League West title in 10 years, with an arsenal of bats and weaponry that seems deep and powerful enough to get another World Series going.

The Angels are a leaky liferaft that’s been adrift for weeks, their playoff hopes being torpedoed mostly by a group of hitters who lead the big leagues in strikes — by a wide margin — and look too often, as Tommy Lasorda once said of Kurt Bevacqua an additional expletive, as if they “fall out of a boat” they can’t hit water.

Their line-up was further weakened by the loss of injured midfielder Mike Trout to upper back spams. All the Angels had to contend with Friday night was Clayton Kershaw, a three-time National League Cy Young winner who is arguably the best pitcher in Dodgers history.

They didn’t stand a chance. Not only did Kershaw dominate the anemic Angels, he got to a perfect play within six outs and settled for eight shutout innings in which he gave up a hit and six in a 9-1 win in front of a sold-out 44,648 Angel crowd scored stadium.

Kershaw eliminated the first 18 batters and needed just 71 pitches — 54 of them strikes — to go seven innings. His efficiency eliminated any chance that manager Dave Roberts would pull the veteran left-hander the way he had after Kershaw threw seven perfect innings with 13 strikeouts in his Minnesota debut on April 13.

Angels right fielder Jo Adell fails to catch a two-run triple hit by the Dodgers' Hanser Alberto in the fifth inning.

Angels right fielder Jo Adell fails to catch a two-run triple hit by the Dodgers’ Hanser Alberto in the fifth inning.

(Mark J. Terrill / Associated Press)

But Angels shortstop Luis Rengifo smashed a 2-and-1 slider into left field corner to set a leadoff double in game eight, ending Kershaw’s bid for Baseball’s 24th perfect game.

Kershaw, who missed a month of the season with a lower back injury, improved to 7-2 with a 2.13 ERA in 12 starts and increased his chances of starting Tuesday night’s All-Star Game at Dodger Stadium.

“I haven’t heard that,” Roberts said before the game. “Hopefully we’ll know soon. Hopefully my phone will ring, or Clayton’s phone, and [NL manager] Brian Snitker will say he’s the starter.”

Kershaw, who came into the game with an 8-2 record and 2.31 ERA in 15 career starts against the Angels, got three superb defensive plays to keep his quest for history intact.

Angels leadoff man Michael Stefanic opened the bottom of the fourth with a chopper down the third baseline that appeared left field legal before Justin Turner intervened.

Dodgers second baseman Hanser Alberto catches a line drive in the fifth inning on July 15, 2022 that was hit by the Angels' Jared Walsh.

Dodgers second baseman Hanser Alberto catches a line drive in the fifth inning which is hit by the Angels’ Jared Walsh.

(Mark J. Terrill / Associated Press)

The Dodgers’ third baseman lunged, grabbed the ball with his backhand, and threw a one-hopper to first from a knee, which Freddie Freeman scooped out for the first of the inning.

With two outs in fifth place, Angels first baseman Jared Walsh shot at 103.2 mph into flat right field where perfectly positioned Dodgers second baseman Hanser Alberto lunged with his backhand for the perfect play to keep intact.

Stefanic led from the seventh with a hard one-hopper down the middle that Trea Turner made with a sliding catch.

The Dodgers shortstop got up and fired right at first for the out.

The Dodgers scored twice in the first game after Mookie Betts opened with a walk and followed with singles against Trea Turner, Freeman and Will Smith against Angels left-hander Patrick Sandoval.

Mookie Betts of The Dodgers scores on Freddie Freeman's single on July 15, 2022. Angel catcher Kurt Suzuki is at left.

The Dodgers’ Mookie Betts scores on Freddie Freeman’s single in the first inning. Angel catcher Kurt Suzuki is on the left.

(Mark J. Terrill / Associated Press)

Freeman’s rocket to right center gave Betts a 1-0 lead and was the first baseman’s 14th hit in last Sunday’s 17 at-bats, a hot stretch in which he had two homers, four doubles, five RBIs and the base reached 18 of 21 plate appearances.

Smith’s single to center loaded the bases with no outs for Justin Turner, whose groundball out to the second base hole gave Trea Turner a 2-0 lead.

Alberto followed Angels third baseman Jonathan Villar with a hard grounder, who tagged Freeman as the runner dove back to the bag before firing for the first time for a double play late in the inning.

Escaping a two-on-no-outs jam in the second and a two-on-one-out jam in the third, Sandoval finished the team in fourth order, but his defense let him down in a two-run fifth .

Sandoval hit two quick outs before Smith hit an infield single. Justin Turner’s tough third-place grounder went under Villar’s glove due to a penalty.

Alberto followed with a drive into deep right field, a tough but catchable ball that Jo Adell turned over before attempting a bouncing backhand catch. The ball grabbed his glove and the wall for a two-run triple and a 4-0 lead for the Dodgers.

The Dodgers blew up the game with a sixth run four, a rally assisted by Angels reliever Jose Marte by entering bases loaded with an out.

Freeman smashed a sacrifice fly down the middle, Smith roped an RBI double to the left and Justin Turner hit a two-run single down the middle to make it 8-0. Clayton Kershaw’s near-perfect night propels Dodgers past Angels

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