Can anyone score a run against Clayton Kershaw?
The Dodgers' left-handed ace has thrown 16 shutout innings to begin the 2013 season, striking out 16 while giving up only six hits and one walk en route to a 2-0 start. He'll be aiming for another win, and perhaps another scoreless performance, when he takes the mound to face the D-backs at Chase Field on Friday night.
The Dodgers enter the series with emotions running high after beating the Padres, 3-2, on Thursday in a game marred by a benches-clearing melee. Prized offseason acquisition Zack Greinke suffered a broken collarbone, ignited by Carlos Quentin charging the mound after he was hit by a pitch in the sixth inning.
The Dodgers won't know the duration of Greinke's absence until after he is examined by team orthopedic physicians on Friday in Los Angeles. Greinke was ejected, as were Matt Kemp, who confronted Quentin in the parking lot after the game, and Jerry Hairston Jr., leaving the Dodgers to wait for word on possible suspensions.
Until then, manager Don Mattingly has some comfort in handing the ball to his ace on Friday night.
"All 30-something starts and never give up a run? Obviously he's not going to be able to keep that up," Mattingly said. "But I know he holds himself to a high standard, and we kind of begin to expect it. We know he's going to be ready every time he pitches. He's kind of machine-like, really. His work between starts just continues and once the season starts, the engine is moving. We expect him to pitch well every time he goes out there."
That comes as bad news to the D-backs, who have struggled against left-handed pitching early this season. Arizona has hit .193 with a .666 OPS against lefties this year, compared to .304 with an .852 OPS against right-handers, and the D-backs are about to face one of the toughest southpaws in baseball. However, they did score nine runs off lefty Jonathan Sanchez in Wednesday's 10-2 win over the Pirates.
"We haven't been that good. We have some power from the left-hand side, it just tends to neutralize that a little more," D-backs manager Kirk Gibson said. "But it's early in the season. There's really nothing to read into it at this point."
Lefty Patrick Corbin will get the start against Kershaw and the Dodgers, who have won five of their last six games. Corbin allowed eight hits and a walk in his 2013 debut against the Brewers, but he managed to hold Milwaukee to just two earned runs over six innings to earn the win.
Corbin went 1-1 in three games against the Dodgers last season, though he gave up only three earned runs in 14 1/3 innings of work and held the Dodgers to a collective .218/.302/.273 batting line in 63 plate appearances.
Kershaw hasn't grown used to too much support this season, anyway. The Dodgers have only put up five runs over his two starts, and they've only scored in two innings. Not that it matters much to him, of course.
"It doesn't affect anything for me," Kershaw said Saturday. "I'm trying to not let them score any runs regardless of if we're winning 10-0 or 1-0. The way I'm trying to pitch doesn't change, regardless of the score."
Dodgers: Crawford continues hot start
• Dodgers outfielder Carl Crawford is looking more and more like the four-time All-Star he was with the Rays.
Crawford leads the club with a .424 average and has 14 hits in nine games, including eight starts. He's been a catalyst at the top of the order with six multi-hit games and nine runs scored.
"Carl has been on lefties, he's been on righties, he's showed some patience, too," Mattingly said. "He's basically been great for us in the leadoff spot. He's showed some power from there."
Crawford led off Wednesday's game with a home run to left, the seventh leadoff shot of his career and his first since 2007.
D-backs: Hill should return to lineup
Second baseman Aaron Hill was out of the D-backs' lineup Wednesday after being hit on the top of his left hand by a James McDonald pitch Tuesday, but he expects to be back for Friday's game.
"They're just talking about a bone bruise and it will stick around for a little bit," Hill said Wednesday. "So get a day, get some treatment, do whatever you can do and get back in there Friday."
• Kershaw and the D-backs have somewhat of a history of run-ins. In September 2011, Kershaw was ejected after hitting Gerardo Parra in the arm with a fastball.
Tensions rose once again last May, when Ian Kennedy backed Kershaw off the plate, then threw behind him. Kershaw reciprocated to Kennedy, throwing a pitch inside that prompted a warning from the home-plate umpire.
• Friday's game won't be seen on Prime Ticket due to a scheduling conflict with a Clippers game. Instead, the game will be moved to a different channel, depending on the provider, and will not be seen on Charter Communications or Comcast Cable. The game will be available on MLB.TV.
• Utility man Josh Wilson made his first start of the season Wednesday in Hill's place. Wilson had only one at-bat through the D-backs' first seven games and went 0-for-2 with two walks, an RBI and a run scored in Arizona's 10-2 win over Pittsburgh.