Dodgers outfielder Carl Crawford celebrates in the dugout after hitting… (Lisa Blumenfeld / Getty…)
For a couple of Texas guys like Clayton Kershaw and Carl Crawford, a home in Southern California may not be where their hearts are. But it's certainly where their success resides.
Just consider the results Sunday when Kershaw held Milwaukee to four hits over eight innings, striking out a season-high 12 batters, and Crawford hit two home runs to guide the Dodgers to a 2-0 victory over the Brewers.
For Kershaw, the win left him 3-1 with an 0.92 earned-run average at Dodger Stadium this year and 37-18, 2.28 in his career. Away from home he's winless this season and only six games over .500 for his career.
BOX SCORE: Dodgers 2, Milwaukee 0
Crawford is batting .391 at home, 177 points better than he's hitting on the road. And even he can't explain the difference.
"I don't know. I really don't have an answer," Crawford said with a shrug. "I like hitting here."
Kershaw never got a shot at an explanation, rushing from the stadium immediately after the game because of what the Dodgers cryptically called a "personal matter." But then the left-hander's performance probably spoke for itself anyway.
After giving up three hits to the first five batters, Kershaw settled down to retire 18 Brewers in a row. Half of those outs came on strikeouts, giving him a National League-best 33 in 291/3 innings at home.
"He's a great pitcher," said Ramon Hernandez, who had his left hand heavily wrapped more than an hour after catching Kershaw in a game for the first time. "He locates every pitch. He has an idea what he wants to do. He's very smart."
The noticeable difference between Kershaw's record at home and on the road may come down to familiarity, Dodgers Manager Don Mattingly said.
"I think guys in general are a little better at home," Mattingly said. "You're just more comfortable in your own setting. You're not in a hotel room, that kind of stuff."
Pitching coach Rick Honeycutt, who also struggled on the road during his playing career, agreed.
"A lot of guys pitch better at home just because mounds are different, circumstances, whatever," he said.
The credit for Crawford's sweet home record goes to the coaching staff. After a trip in which he had two hits in 19 at-bats, Crawford was told to be more aggressive at the plate. And that paid off in his first at-bat Sunday when he drove the first pitch from Kyle Lohse over the wall in center field, giving Kershaw all the support he would need.
"A lot of guys have been getting ahead with the first pitch, right down the middle," said Crawford, who had been seeing nearly four pitches per plate appearance.
The coaches, he said, "pretty much gave me the freedom to be myself. I'm not trying to just hit the ball to the shortstop and run. For the most part I'm trying to hit the ball in the gap somewhere."
In the fifth inning he hit the ball over the gap, lining his team-high fourth home run into the first row of the right-field pavilion.