Clayton Kershaw faced plenty of questions and pitched under a microscope last week upon being activated off the 10-day injured list. He turned in seven strong innings to help lead the Los Angeles Dodgers to a win over the Cincinnati Reds.
It eased some concern over the shoulder inflammation that caused the Dodgers to shut their ace down during Spring Training and have him begin the season on the IL. Encouraging of a 2019 debut as Kershaw had, Sunday presented a different challenge in the form of the Milwaukee Brewers.
Particularly since it meant matching up with Christian Yelich, who had hit at least one home run in each of the first three games of the series at Miller Park. Kershaw managed to keep Yelich in the ballpark, though did walk him twice in three plate appearances.
Overall, Kershaw issued four walks in six innings. He was particularly shaky early, walking three of the first six batters faced. That prompted the three-time Cy Young Award winner to admit the start was a challenge for him, via SportsNet LA:
“It was a grind. Definitely wasn’t easy. I was kind of fighting myself out there really the whole game. But, in the end, you get five runs early like that, you just try to protect the lead as best you can. Walked way too many guys for that lead, obviously, but I’ll take it.”
Even as Kershaw was battling some command trouble, his slider had good depth and it helped keep the Brewers at bay. Milwaukee did not have a hit until Orlando Arcia’s blooper landed fair down the right-field line for a leadoff triple in the fifth inning.
Lorenzo Cain hit a two-run home run two batters later, trimming the Dodgers’ lead to 5-2. Had Kenley Jansen not blown a four-out save opportunity, Kershaw would’ve improved to a lifetime 105-0 in the regular season whenever given support of at least four runs. L.A. led 4-0 through the first two innings and 5-0 in the fourth.
In his two starts this season, Kershaw has collected 13 strikeouts and allowed two home runs over 13 innings pitched.