Clayton Kershaw has often stated on some level he can accept surrendering home runs so long as they come with the bases empty, but that proved to be his downfall as the Los Angeles Dodgers suffered a 5-1 loss to the New York Yankees in the rubber match and conclusion of Players Weekend.
With the win, the Yankees pulled back to within one game of the Dodgers for the best record in baseball. The Houston Astros are also one game back of L.A. as well.
Kershaw set a season high with 12 strikeouts over seven innings but it was the three home runs allowed that ultimately told the story. The Yankees went into play tied for the MLB record of most home runs hit by a team in a calendar month with 58.
They wasted little time taking sole possession of that, as DJ LeMahieu deposited the third pitch he saw into the left-center field pavilion. That marked the first time in Kershaw’s career he surrendered a leadoff home run in back-to-back starts.
It was his third such longball allowed this season, which is one shy of tying the amount Kershaw gave up from 2008-18.
Aaron Judge continued to emerge from a slump and added to Kershaw’s woes by hammering an elevated curveball to the opposite field for a two-out home run in the third inning. That gave Judge a home run in each of the three games against the Dodgers.
Mike Ford, who pinch-hit for Didi Gregorious earlier in the game because the Yankees shortstop was hit by a pitch in the back of his right shoulder, took Kershaw deep in the sixth. Ford later added an RBI double off Pedro Baez in the eighth inning.
Kershaw turned in a 20th quality start this season and got through at least six innings for a 23rd time in as many outings. However, the six home runs he allowed are the most in consecutive starts.
While Kershaw managed to keep the Dodgers in the game, Domingo Germán successfully pitched to contact and navigated his way through traffic to get through six innings of one-run ball.
The Dodgers had at least one baserunner reach in five of his frames. Their lone run against Germán came on Joc Pederson’s leadoff home run that tied the game.
L.A. threatened again in the third inning when Max Muncy walked and Justin Turner singled to put two on with one out for Cody Bellinger. But he grounded weakly to the right side of the infield on the first pitch, and Brett Gardner then aided Germán’s effort by making a leaping catch on the warning track in center field to rob Corey Seager of an extra-base hit and two RBI.
When Pederson was hit by a pitch to start the fifth inning, a strikeout and caught stealing double play halted any possible momentum the Dodgers may have generated. Moreover, Austin Barnes and Chris Taylor were each stranded after hitting two-out doubles in the fourth and sixth, respectively.