Strikeouts, scattered hits, yelling and other displays of intensity and emotion; they’re all synonymous with Clayton Kershaw starts. On Saturday, the Los Angeles Dodgers ace was visibly frustrated while largely dominating the San Diego Padres at Petco Park.
Kershaw navigated his way through seven shutout innings before allowing a home run to pinch-hitter Ryan Schimpf. Though, it wasn’t all smooth sailing for the three-time Cy Young Award winner, however.
Home-plate umpire Toby Basner’s strike zone was a point of contention for Kershaw. He issued four walks for the first time since May 10, 2015. If there’s a silver lining of sorts, it wasn’t one-sided. Clayton Richard tied a career high with six walks.
Kershaw’s anger boiled over during Wil Myers plate appearance in the eighth inning. Myers walked and was the final batter Kershaw faced. “It doesn’t matter,” he responded when asked for his thoughts on the tight zone.
“It probably was a ball. (I) just showed too much emotion. I wanted to make it through eight (innings) but didn’t get the job done.” Kershaw was otherwise pleased with the Dodgers’ rout of the Padres, and conceded his command was improved from Monday’s start.
Dodgers manager Dave Roberts said the club embraces Kershaw’s intense focus on days he starts. But the second-year manager is also keenly aware of when to save Kershaw from himself.
“When you start to smell the finish line, I think the intensity ramps up a little bit,” Roberts said. “Clayton threw a heck of a ball game. As that (eighth) inning kind of unfolded, and he was getting a little too emotional, you have to make that decision for him.”
Roberts added the irritation stemmed from “questions throughout the game” pertaining to Basner’s strike zone. In addition to exchanging words with Basner, Kershaw barehanded a toss from Austin Barnes and did a pirouette when a pitch he believed was strike three to Wil Myers was called for ball.
Kershaw finished with nine strikeouts, which is his second-highest total this year, and he threw a season-high 118 pitches. Kershaw is now 4-0 with a 0.66 ERA in his last six starts against the Padres.