Clayton Kershaw was back on the mound Monday night for his first start with the Los Angeles Dodgers since July 3. And one night after throwing for three touchdowns to lead the L.A. Rams to a season-opening win over the Chicago Bears, Matthew Stafford was among those in attendance at Dodger Stadium.
Kershaw and the Rams’ starting quarterback have a friendship that dates back to playing together on youth sports teams in the Dallas area. Kershaw has attended Stafford’s games in the past and though he passed on doing so Sunday night, was humbled by his close friend being on hand for the series opener against the Arizona Diamondbacks.
“I wanted to go to his game [Sunday], but first time pitching, I didn’t want to do too much so I kind of chilled at home and watched,” Kershaw explained. “I was excited to watch him, he played awesome. I know he’s excited to be there.
“For him to come out and show support the day after was really cool. We’ve known each other for a long time and we played a lot of sports together growing up. It’s always fun to have somebody to chill for in another sport, and Matthew is that guy for me.
“Now that we’re both in L.A., it’s kind of full circle. It’s pretty cool.”
Kershaw held the Diamondbacks to just one run and collect five strikeouts over 4.1 innings. The plan heading into his return from the 60-day injured list was to throw in the neighborhood of four innings or 60 pitches.
“There’s not a lot of better feelings in the world than getting to pitch here and getting a win. It’s a special thing,” Kershaw said after the Dodgers’ 5-1 win. “I missed it, it was good to be back. We got a win and everything worked out. It was good.”
Kershaw was particularly encouraged with getting an opportunity to face a batter in the fifth inning — even if it only required one pitch to get the out.
“My pitch count was low, obviously, but for me the ups and downs are harder than the pitch count,” he said. “I think sitting down and getting back up for that fifth time was important. Maybe I can get through six or something the next start. That would be awesome.”
Turner excited for Kershaw
The Dodgers have effectively gone the entire season without being at full health and while that may hold true through September, Kershaw returning provided a significant boon.
“Obviously Kersh is our guy. He’s our leader. When he takes the ball, we know we’ve got a really good chance of winning a ballgame,” Justin Turner said.
“That was special. I know he was chomping at the bit to get out there and be back on the mound. I know he didn’t get through five (innings), but to get him early runs, let him do his thing and win a ballgame was great.”
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