Clayton Kershaw didn’t have a clean inning on Saturday night but still turned in a quality start to help the Los Angeles Dodgers bounce back from being shut out by the St. Louis Cardinals.
While Kershaw gave up a two-run home run to Nolan Arenado, it was his matchups with Albert Pujols that garnered plenty of attention. Unless the Dodgers and Cardinals meet in the National League Championship Series, Saturday marked the final time the two surefire Hall of Famers faced each other.
The three at-bats Pujols logged against Kershaw lost some buzz due to right-handed slugger reaching 700 home runs in the series opener at Dodger Stadium.
“Obviously, you’re trying to compete in the moment, but I’m so happy for Albert that he hit those two, yesterday especially, that’s good get that out of the way,” Kershaw said.
“And obviously, didn’t want it to be against our team, but I’m so happy that he got to 700 and I have a lot of respect for Albert. Got to play with him, I know him pretty well now. I think he just goes about it the right way and I had a ton of fun playing with him.
“Playing against him, it’s never been easy. So he got one hit off me tonight, and hopefully, that’s the last one ever.”
Kershaw retired Pujols in his first two at-bats before the single in the sixth inning that later was followed by Arenado’s home run.
Prior to Pujols signing with the Dodgers last season, he had established a relationship with Kershaw through their respective charity work. Both spoke fondly of each other throughout the year, and Kershaw believed the Dodgers drew energy from Pujols’ presence.
Beyond having spent part of the 2021 season as teammates, the two already shared history on the field. The first hit Kershaw allowed during his MLB debut was a double to Pujols.
Clayton Kershaw didn’t hold back
The Cardinals have hit left-handers well this season, and if that’s going to prove a challenge to Kershaw and the Dodgers again this year, it could come in the NLCS. Nevertheless, Kershaw didn’t operate with the mindset of not throwing his entire arsenal at the Cardinals.
“I don’t have enough stuff to hold anything back,” Kershaw quipped. “So I always throw what I have. And you’re right. I mean, they’re a great team. We might see them in the postseason, and if that’s the case, it’ll most likely be the NLCS, so we’re in a good spot.”
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