Clayton Kershaw not only prides himself on pitching the Los Angeles Dodgers to a win every five days, but doing so in dominant fashion. It’s not often the left-handed ace is satisfied with an outing shorter than seven innings.
In an unexpected turn of events on Sunday, Kershaw labored through his shortest start of the season. The Chicago Cubs hit three home runs and tallied 11 hits off Kershaw. He was removed after just 4.1 innings, needing 109 pitches to get to that point.
Kershaw wasn’t alone in struggling through the series finale at Dodger Stadium. Jon Lester allowed six runs on seven hits, including two home runs, in just 3.1 innings of work.
“Obviously, I didn’t pitch the way I wanted to pitch,” Kershaw said. “It’s part of baseball. Sometimes games are going to happen that way.
“For the guys to pick me up the way they did, it’s awesome. It’s a testament to our team and how good we’re playing right now.”
Willson Contreras, Javier Baez and Anthony Rizzo were responsible for the three home runs. Each was hit off a fastball from Kershaw. “It wasn’t a great day. They did a great job, battled me well,” he said.
“I gave up a lot of hits, but our team was better today. Silver lining is we got the sweep. I’ll think about all that other bad stuff [Monday].”
Kershaw allowed three home runs, 11 hits and four runs in the same game for the first time in his career. While he failed to meet expectations, the Dodgers atoned for the uncharacteristic performance — both offensively and from the mound.
Josh Fields, Sergio Romo, Adam Liberatore and Kenley Jansen combined to throw 4.2 hitless innings. That ran the bullpen’s scoreless streak to 11.2 innings during the sweep. That Kershaw was responsible for allowing the only runs in the series wasn’t lost on him.
“No one gave up a run this series but me,” he said with a sheepish smile. “It was a good series for everybody.”