Los Angeles Dodgers manager Dave Roberts didn’t have any limits placed on Clayton Kershaw in his final tune-up against the San Francisco Giants on Saturday. The start was Kershaw’s fifth since missing 75 days while recovering from a mild disc herniation.
He threw three perfect innings and nearly got through a fourth, but gave up a sinking line-drive single to Buster Posey with two outs. In the fifth inning, Angel Pagan hit a leadoff home run that bounced off the top of the left-field fence and carried into the stands.
“If I can do it all over again, I’d probably throw a different pitch,” Kershaw said of allowing the home run that broke a scoreless tie. “I didn’t think he hit it that well, but I guess he did. Tip your cap, I guess.”
After working around some traffic in the sixth, the wheels came undone for Kershaw and the Dodgers in the seventh inning.
A leadoff single was followed by a soft infield single and two-base throwing error that extended San Francisco’s lead. Gordon Beckham’s sacrifice fly put further distance between the Dodgers and Giants.
Ultimately, Kershaw allowed three runs (one earned) and had four strikeouts on an efficient 82 pitches over seven innings. “I feel good and arm feels good. I want to be perfect, and it wasn’t perfect [Saturday], but it was good enough for sure.”
“They were swinging from the get-go. I got my pitch count down early, I probably could’ve gone the whole game. There were a few dumb pitches. Just got too much of the plate on a few of them. Overall it was kind of a frustrating day.”
Dodgers manager Dave Roberts was pleased with what he saw from his ace. He called Kershaw’s curveball “as good as I’ve seen it.” Next for the three-time Cy Young Award winner is starting Game 1 of the National League Division Series against the Washington Nationals.
Los Angeles needed to win Saturday and Sunday, plus get a Nationals loss, in order to clinch home-field in the NLDS. That doesn’t make much of a difference to Kershaw, who admitted to facing some doubt on being in this situation.
“It looked bleak there for a little bit. I didn’t know if I was going to be able to make it to this point,” he said. “Now that it’s here it’s exciting. But it’s only exciting if we win, so I’ll try to win Friday.”