Clayton Kershaw makes his first start since July 3 for the Dodgers, and they win.
LOS ANGELES (CBSLA) — For the Dodgers, it’s just one three-time Cy Young Award winner and future Hall of Famer after another.
Clayton Kershaw returned to the Dodgers’ starting rotation on Monday night at Dodger Stadium, pitching into the fifth inning and conceding just one run in his first start since July 3.
In 4-1/3 innings, Kershaw gave up four hits and a walk while striking out five batters and throwing 50 pitches (short of the 60 he was supposed to throw in his first start in two months, but he was only supposed to pitch four innings).
He commented following his 193rd career start at Dodger Stadium, “There aren’t many nicer feelings in the world than getting to pitch here and getting a win.” “It’s a unique situation. . It was great to be back. Today, we won, and everything worked out.”
Last Monday, he made a three-inning rehab start in Triple-A. Kershaw was understandably dissatisfied, claiming that he spent “the past two months trying to get healthy” to catcher Austin Barnes. Now I’ve got four or five days to learn how to pitch again.”
“There’s just no way to simulate a big-league game. There’s really not,” he said Monday. “You can do all the bullpens, all the rehabs, all the working out you want. But for whatever reason, pitching in a big-league game is just different and the only way to do it and to get better at it is to do it, to go out and compete. So I’m glad I got this first one behind me.”
He appears to be a rapid learner. The first inning was not particularly successful. A double, a walk, and an RBI single sent three of the Diamondbacks’ first five batters to the plate. Kershaw, on the other hand, struck out Henry Ramos to end the inning.
Kershaw struck out 11 of the final 13 batters he faced, starting with Ramos. After going through the Diamondbacks’ lineup twice and retiring one hitter in the fifth inning, Dodgers manager Dave Roberts pulled Kershaw.
“I think there’s still some things I need to work on pitching-wise,” Kershaw said. “Today, it was good to get back out there. But at the same time, we’re in a race so there’s not a lot of time to work the kinks out. For me, I was throwing a lot more curveballs today than I probably had in the past, but that just seemed to be what was working. Gotta get that slider working. Fastball too was okay at times. But there’s definitely some things I need to work on.
The familiar sight of Kershaw on the mound at Dodger Stadium brought “a lot of positive energy” to the team, Roberts said.
“It was awesome. So good to see him back out there, taking the ball,” Dodgers third baseman Justin Turner said. “We talked before the game, how hard it is for him not to be able to go out there and compete every fifth day. We’re all excited to see him back out there.
“Kersh is our guy. He’s our leader. When he takes the ball, we know we’ve got a really good chance to win a ballgame. That was special.”
Against Zac Gallen, the Dodgers answered the Diamondbacks’ first-inning run with three of their own.
Starting with Mookie Betts’ double, four of the Dodgers’ first five batters reached base (who is now 7 for 16 with a double, two home runs, six RBIs and six runs scored since moving back into the leadoff spot last week).
With an RBI single, Corey Seager drove in the first run, then came around to score on Justin Turner’s two-run double into the left field corner.
Gallen was able to get out of it, but stranded two runners in the second inning. To get through those two innings, the Diamondbacks right-hander fired 52 pitches, and it did not look like he would be around for long.
Gallen pitched into the sixth inning after the Dodgers were unable to score a knockout blow.
In the fourth inning, the Dodgers nearly got to him again when Gavin Lux and Barnes led off with back-to-back singles. Betts hit a fly ball into shallow right field after Kershaw’s sacrifice bunt. Lux tagged and ran home, arriving in time for right fielder Jake McCarthy’s throw.
Lux was originally judged safe, but the ruling was overturned after a lengthy replay review (about two and a half minutes).
Gallen was removed from the game after the Dodgers scored again in the sixth inning. Barnes’ RBI double was the game-winner.
With a single home run in the seventh inning, Justin Turner made it a three-RBI night. Turner has four home runs in his last 24 at-bats after going 84 plate appearances without one.
Turner, whose only hits during that time were home runs, remarked, “Just putting in the work.” “I feel like I kind of got my timing back. I feel like I was late there for awhile.”
The first-place San Francisco Giants won their eighth straight game on Monday, securing a playoff berth for the first time since 2016 and keeping the Los Angeles Dodgers 2½ games out of first place in the National League West with 17 games remaining in the regular season.
“I’m thankful,” Kershaw said of getting back in action. “I didn’t really know what it was going to look like at the end of this season. So for me to be a part of it is huge. I will never take that for granted ever – to be in a playoff race, to be a part of it. And it’s a good one right now. The Giants aren’t losing. They’re not making it easy for us. It’s going to be fun.”\
“There’s not a lot of better feelings in the world than getting to pitch here and getting a win. It’s a special thing. I missed it. It was good to be back." @ClaytonKersh22 on his first outing back from the IL. pic.twitter.com/VLY5ohZQ3O— SportsNet LA (@SportsNetLA) September 14, 2021
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