Clayton Kershaw seemingly pitched with a heavy heart over two starts after his mother passed away on May 13, and it wasn’t until last Monday that he took time away from the Los Angeles Dodgers by going on the bereavement list.
That allowed Kershaw to return to Texas in order to attend funeral services with his family. He was activated from bereavement leave on Friday and started the following day in the middle game of the weekend series against the Tampa Bay Rays.
Although Kershaw managed to pitch five innings — an improvement from his two prior starts — he was frustrated by the performance after allowing four runs on six hits, via SportsNet LA
“This was such a great team win. I didn’t have anything to do with it, unfortunately. Bullpen pitched four solid innings, Freddie and everybody had clutch hits all the way up and down. Personally, it’s frustrating. I felt like I had some good rhythm, good momentum going first few innings and just kind of lost it. My command just became really inconsistent, so it’s frustrating. It’s not something I’m really used to having to struggle with.
“But it is what it is. Got to keep grinding and try to figure that out as best I can. For the most part it was a great team win, and hopefully I’ll be a part of one here soon.”
Kershaw further expanded on his command likely being the root of his struggles and feeling a need to rest of sorts:
“I think it’s just command. There’s some days where the stuff doesn’t feel as good, but today it felt great coming out. I just got pretty inconsistent there. Walking guys on four pitches to start innings, falling behind, just not something that I’m used to doing and don’t want to get used. I need to figure it out. Whether it’s mental and need to focus better, or mechanical, I’m not sure. I just need to kind of go back to the drawing board and figure it out.”
In Kershaw’s first start after losing his mother, he logged just four innings but held the Minnesota Twins to two runs on seven hits and one walk. Kershaw additionally finished with seven strikeouts in the outing.
He followed that by laboring through 3.2 innings against the St. Louis Cardinals while allowing four runs and issuing three walks.
Dodgers manager Dave Roberts has expressed his belief of Kershaw dealing with some general body fatigue that likely stemmed from the emotions of losing a parent, though the three-time Cy Young Award winner has continued to dismiss that notion.
Clayton Kershaw against Rays
Facing the Rays for the first time since the 2020 World Series, Kershaw initially got through three scoreless innings. That entailed stranding runners at the corners in the third, but a leadoff walk and one-out double in the fourth inning wound up leading to Manuel Margot’s two-run base hit.
Kershaw then surrendered a go-ahead, two-run homer to Harold Ramírez in the fifth. He only issued two walks and finished with six strikeouts over five innings of work.
Kershaw didn’t factor into the decision, but the Dodgers’ comeback win prevented him from losing a third consecutive start. That last occurred from August 25-September 6, 2019, when Kershaw took losses against the New York Yankees, Arizona Diamondbacks and San Francisco Giants.
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