first_img Newsroom GuidelinesNews TipsContact UsReport an Error Sunday’s win was the Dodgers’ 26th in their last 30 games before the break (and their 18th in the past 19 home games) so Kershaw was asked the inevitable questions about his team being “hot” as the break arrives. That put Kershaw in the position of pondering whether the Dodgers are indeed hot – or just this good?“Yeah, I guess … how long is a hot streak? Or is this just us?” he said. “I guess we’ll find out in the second half.”It would be hard to match the past 90 games. The Dodgers reached the break with a plus-163 run differential, the best in the National League at the break since the All-Star Game was created in 1933 and the fourth-best all-time. The three teams with a higher run-differential at the break all reached the World Series (the 1936 and 1939 Yankees and 1969 Orioles) with two of the three winning the championship (both Yankees teams).“Last couple of years, we’ve been playing from behind and had kind of an uphill battle,” said Turner of the Dodgers who trailed the San Francisco Giants by 6 1/2 games at this point a year ago. “But at the same time, I don’t think anyone in here is content with where we’re at. We’re gonna continue getting better and playing good baseball in the second half.“I think we’re just really good at being in the moment right now. We’re not worried about what happened yesterday or what’s in front of us. It’s about today and what we’re going to do to prepare and try to win a game today.” LOS ANGELES >> All in all, you’d have to say that went pretty well.Justin Turner hit two home runs and Clayton Kershaw threw a complete game as the Dodgers reached the All-Star break with a 5-2 victory over the Kansas City Royals on Sunday afternoon.The win completed a sweep of the interleague series – the major-league leading 10th series sweep of the season for the Dodgers. They reach the break with the best record in baseball for the first time since 2009. At 61-29, the Dodgers are only the fourth team in the past 40 years to win 60 games before the break. Each of the previous three went on to win at least 101 games.“It’s the best half I’ve ever been a part of ,” Kershaw said. “First 90 games down, we can exhale for four days. But come Friday, we need to get back to what we’ve been doing. It definitely makes the All-Star break more satisfying with what we’ve done in the first half.”center_img They rode Kershaw (baseball’s only 14-game winner at the break) to do it Sunday. Kershaw pitched his first complete game since May 2016, striking out 13.“He was Clayton-esque,” said Dodgers manager Dave Roberts who will now give Kershaw at least eight days off before his next start.He didn’t extend his ace Sunday, though. Kershaw only threw 99 pitches – the first time a pitcher has struck out 13 or more in a complete game while throwing fewer than 100 pitches.“Those guys over there are very aggressive, more so than anybody I’ve seen in recent years or at any time,” Roberts said of the Royals’ swing-first approach. “I think they’re swinging once they’re in the batter’s box. I think being around the strike zone lends itself to efficiency and Clayton when he was getting ahead in the count was able to wipe them out.“On a day like this, to be able to stay away from Kenley and Petey and the rest of the bullpen – just a nice way to finish off the first half.”Turner finished it with 10 home runs despite hitting just one before June. He went deep twice against Royals starter Danny Duffy on Sunday – a solo homer in the first inning and a two-run shot in the third.Backup catcher Austin Barnes finished the break having figured out how to thrive in his part-time role. Barnes hit a solo home run in the sixth inning Sunday and has batted .312 (24 for 77) since early May with six doubles and four home runs. Combined, the OPS of the Dodgers’ catchers, Barnes and Yasmani Grandal, ranks third in baseball.“I think I’m just more confident,” Barnes said. “The last couple years, going up and down (between Triple-A and the majors), it was hard. Now, just being here, I know I can take my normal ABs. I’m not pressing.”last_img

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