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Clayton Kershaw hits home run and pitches shutout in Opening Day win (Video)

Clayton Kershaw home runClayton Kershaw had an Opening Day to remember. The two-time All-Star and 2011 Cy Young Award winner homered and pitched a complete game shutout in the Los Angeles Dodgers’ 4-0 win over the defending World Series champion San Francisco Giants on Monday at Dodger Stadium.

Kershaw broke a scoreless game in the eighth with a solo home run to center field off reliever George Kontos. The homer was thrilling because there was no sign of offense, and then out of nowhere, Kershaw, leading off the inning, hammered the first pitch out to center for his first career home run. After Kershaw led off the inning with the dinger, the Dodgers scored three more runs to go up 4-0.

On the pitching side, Kershaw allowed just four hits, no walks, and struck out seven over the nine scoreless innings for the win. He became the first pitcher since Cleveland’s Bob Lemon in 1953 to hit a home run and pitch a shutout on Opening Day.

It was like a Little League game for Kershaw — hitting a home run and throwing a shutout. Only he did it against the defending World Series champs.

Tim Lincecum Supports Clayton Kershaw for NL Cy Young

The Dodgers beat the Giants 2-1 in the opener of a three-game series Friday night. Clayton Kershaw went eight innings of three-hit ball, walking one and striking out nine for the win. Tim Lincecum matched him by allowing just one run over eight innings, but the Dodgers scored in the 9th with Kershaw as the pitcher of record. Lincecum took a no-decision.

Timmy is putting in another fantastic season for the Giants. He’s gone 12-12 with a 2.68 ERA and 206 strikeouts. Kershaw is 18-5 with 2.36 ERA and an NL-best 231 strikeouts. The Giants pitcher, who has won two Cy Young Awards, said after Friday’s game he knows who should win the award this year.

According to the San Jose Mercury News, Lincecum said Kershaw would be his choice. “The young lefty just keeps getting better and better. He has incredible stuff, and every season, he’s learning more about how to compete with it,” Andrew Baggarly wrote.

“He doesn’t give in,” Lincecum said. “You can see his confidence when he’s pitching. He knows he’s good. The most important thing as a pitcher is to know you’ll get the job done. You can see it with him. He’s done it all year.”

I wrote last month that the Dodgers could have a Cy Young winner and MVP on a last-place team. The team has shaped up and is now close to .500. Meanwhile, Kershaw has gotten even better lately. Cliff Lee and Roy Halladay will provide competition for the award, but the way Kershaw’s pitching, he is the front-runner for the award. If even the rival Lincecum is saying it, it must be true.

Dodgers Could Complete Rare Hat Trick: MVP and Cy Young on Last-Place Team

The Dodgers have been a pathetic team this season. A good amount of their problems are due to the ownership situation that has turned fans against Frank McCourt. But as bad as the Dodgers are (55-67 as of Thursday), they still have some truly talented players.

Matt Kemp and Clayton Kershaw have been so good they have a legitimate shot at becoming the 18th pair of teammates to win the MVP and Cy Young Award. If they were to take home the hardware, it would mark the first time a losing team had players win both awards. What’s even more embarrassing is that the Dodgers are battling the Padres for last place in the NL West.

Center fielder Matt Kemp has played like an MVP-candidate since the season began. He’s fourth in the NL in OPS (.966), tied for third with 28 home runs, tied for second with 89 RBIs, and third with 32 stolen bases. The only factors that could keep him from winning MVP are his sometimes shaky defense, and the lack of support from voters because he plays for a losing team.

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