It has become commonplace over recent seasons but seemingly never any easier of a conversation. With Clayton Kershaw hat 97 pitches through six shutout innings, Los Angeles Dodgers manager Dave Roberts ventured over to speak with the franchise’s longtime ace.
Kershaw appeared to get animated as Roberts patted him on the chest. The message was clear: Kershaw’s dominant night, in which he set a season high with 10 strikeouts, was complete. “I wanted to stay in,” he would later say. “I think the outcome of the game aside, I would have liked to stay in.
“It was Doc’s decision obviously and the results are what it is and we ended up winning the game, so that’s all great. I just know what’s ahead and with two off days coming up I felt like it was a good time to get one more, but Doc’s always had the bigger picture in mind, which you can’t argue with.”
The Dodgers bullpen figured to be capable of preserving a 6-0 against a struggling Miami Marlins team. Instead, JT Chargois surrendered a solo home run in the seventh inning, and the Marlins rallied with a five-run eighth to tie the game.
Matt Beaty’s three-run home run in the bottom half of the inning broke the tie, and Russell Martin’s RBI single tacked on an insurance run.
Kershaw didn’t factor into the decision but nonetheless remained undefeated in 10 home starts this season. Overall he’s taken the mound 17 times this year, and authored a quality start each time out.
“It was a lot of positives, was able to get going pretty quick. My stuff was there early. It was a good day for the most part,” Kershaw said of his performance against the Marlins.
He carried a perfect game into the fourth inning, and retired the leadoff hitter before failing to make a play on a ball hit back to the mound. The infield single was followed by a typical hit, and that was all Kershaw wound up allowing.
“I think my slider was probably a little bit better today, for sure, maybe even fastball command was a little bit better today,” he said. “Really, just stuff in general was a little bit more crisp today, which is great.
“I think my slider had some decent depth early and my curveball mixed in there for the most part. I didn’t throw I think as many strikes as I would have liked with it. But mix it up, get a little bit creative, Barnsey did a great job and was able to get some more punchouts than usual, which is good.”
Though Kershaw had a difference of opinion with his manager, that hardly upset Roberts. “I love that about him and I love that about all of our starters,” he said of the desire to remain in the game.
“I thought he was very good tonight. I thought the slider was good, I thought the curveball was good, he was seeing pitches well, his fastball command was very good. Ten punch, one walk, very good night and obviously for him personally, you leave the game 6-0 through six, you want to win. But most importantly, the Dodgers got a win.
“But yeah, for Clayton, he threw really well. Where we’re at right now, for me, it makes no sense to try to push him. It doesn’t, and that’s why I’ve been very consistent with that for four years. But I do appreciate him wanting to go back out there.”