Beyond the Los Angeles Dodgers looking to come away with a series victory, Wednesday’s rubber match with the New York Yankees was another important checkpoint for Clayton Kershaw.
He threw 66 pitches over three innings last weekend in what was his first start since coming off the 60-day disabled list. Kershaw went 75 days between Major League starts as he recovered from a mild disc herniation.
To no surprise, he lobbied to remain in the game but was shot down by Dodgers manager Dave Roberts, who had the bigger picture in mind.
While the plan was to build Kershaw’s innings and pitch count on Wednesday, it didn’t come easy as inclement weather intervened.
Kershaw picked up one strikeout and needed only 11 pitches to throw a 1-2-3 first inning. He came back and retired the side in order, remaining efficient, and throwing 10 pitches in the second frame.
The third was much of the same as the Dodgers’ ace added put another perfect inning in the books, doing so on nine pitches while collecting a strikeout. Kershaw’s day of work then appeared to be in danger of being cut short when the Dodgers were unable to capitalize on loading the bases in the fourth.
With heavy rain falling in the top of the inning, play was suspended after Andre Ethier grounded into an inning-ending double play. However, the rain delay only lasted 12 minutes, and Kershaw was back on the mound in the bottom of the fourth.
The game entered a second rain delay after the top of the fifth, with it lasting 48 minutes. But still, in a surprise, Kershaw took the mound. His perfect game was immediately lost on a Justin Turner error as a hard-hit grounder ate him up.
Chase Headley then broke up Kershaw’s no-hit bid with a base hit to left field. A sacrifice bunt advanced both runners into scoring position. They were stranded, however, as Kershaw struck out Rob Refsnyder and Austin Romine to end the inning.
That was it for the three-time Cy Young Award winner. He exited after five shutout innings with just one hit allowed and five strikeouts.
Time Warner Cable SportsNet LA reporter Alanna Rizzo said Kershaw threw 16 pitches during the second rain delay, which brought his daily total to 80 pitches. Kershaw’s fastball command was spotty at times, though overall he was much sharper than the start against the Miami Marlins.
Kershaw is next slated to start Monday’s series opener against the San Francisco Giants. Justin Turner hit a go-ahead double in the ninth inning and scored a run in the Dodgers’ 2-0 victory to take the rubber match from the Yankees.