Clayton Kershaw began the night against the Mets looking more or less like Clayton Kershaw, which is to say that he began the night looking as if he’d be very hard to hit. But that soon unraveled—seemingly slowly, at first, and then very quickly—and suddenly it was the seventh inning and baseball’s best pitcher was giving up his fourth home run of the night and his second to José Reyes. (Old José Reyes, who was hitting .193 entering tonight with a grand total of four home runs on the season and just one double-dinger game in the past five years.)
The Dodgers jumped out to a quick lead and were up 7-0 by the third inning, when Kershaw gave up his first dinger of the evening in the form of a first-pitch solo shot by Reyes. The fourth inning saw another solo home run, this one by Jay Bruce. Next came a two-run shot by Gavin Cecchini, the first home run of the rookie’s career.
Finally, after recording 10 strikeouts through the first out of the seventh inning, Kershaw gave up yet another home run to Reyes. He was mercifully pulled before he could demonstrate his newfound fallibility any further. (Or before more could be done to cut into the Dodgers’ newly slim 8-6 lead.)
Before this year, Kershaw had given up three or more home runs in a game just twice and hadn’t done so at all since 2013. This season alone, he’s done it three times. Take it as a sign that the recent home run surge is an equal opportunist who’s come for everyone—he hasn’t been allowing harder contact or many more fly balls this season, he’s just been watching more than twice as many of those fly balls turn into home runs—or take it as a reminder that even the greatest can reveal themselves to be uncomfortably normal at times. Either way, it’s unsettling.