Kershaw nearly perfect in second September stint

Jim McIsaac/Getty Images)

Clayton Kershaw in the first inning at Yankee Stadium today, when the sun still glowed. (Jim McIsaac/Getty Images)

By Jon Weisman

As Clayton Kershaw showed he was ready to reign over New York, the only problem was how much it rained over Clayton Kershaw.

In his second start since returning from the disabled list, Kershaw threw five shutout innings — the first four of them perfect — despite being interrupted by two separate rain delays, in a game ultimately won by the Dodgers in the ninth, 2-0.

Taking an impressive step forward in his his comeback from a disk herniation, the Dodger left-hander needed only 44 pitches to retire the first 12 batters he faced at Yankee Stadium. That included a 12-minute rain delay that separated his third and fourth innings by 26 minutes.

Pitching on four days’ rest after using 66 pitches in three innings at Miami in his initial comeback game, Kershaw sliced through the Yankee lineup with Greg Maddux-like efficiency, using 11 pitches to complete the first inning, 10 pitches in the second, nine in the third and 14 in the fourth.

While the first pause barely disrupted the flow of the game (innings at Coors Field, for example, might take just as long), a 48-minute stoppage seemed like it would end Kershaw’s outing before the bottom of the fifth.

But as SportsNet LA’s Alanna Rizzo reported, Kershaw threw 16 simulated pitches for a psuedo-inning while it rained, and then returned for one more frame.

His perfect game ended when Justin Turner made an error on Starlin Castro’s hot shot to third. Next, the no-hitter bid adieu on a single by Chase Headley. Didi Gregorius nearly beat out a bunt, but settled for moving the runners to second and third with one out. Suddenly, Kershaw would be tested.

His answer? Strikeouts of Rob Refsnyder and Austin Romine, the latter punctuated by a classic Kershaw shout.

In his four innings, Yankees starter Michael Pineda used 83 pitches, forcing him out of the game for reliever Tommy Layne to start the fifth. Nevertheless, the score remained 0-0, after the Dodgers couldn’t convert their best chance.

One out into the top of the fourth, Adrian Gonzalez walked and Yasmani Grandal doubled him to third. Josh Reddick appeared to line out, but catcher’s interference was called on Yankee backstop Gary Sanchez, putting Reddick on first base.

In his seventh at-bat of the season, Andre Ethier hit a hard shot to first baseman Tyler Austin, who started an inning-ending, 3-6-1 double play that nailed Ethier at first by half a step. The first rain delay began at that moment.

With the simulated pitches, Kershaw pitch count reached 80 for the day. He is next scheduled to pitch for the Dodgers on September 19, when they open their three-game series with the Giants. The forecast is for a low of 65 degrees, with 0 percent chance of precipitation.

2 Comments

Seems that if Kershaw went from 50 pitches to 80 today, he’ll be on track for 100 next game and then his discretion from there in out.

Kershaw, as usual, was wonderful to watch perform as he got out after out. I never expected him to return after the second rain delay.
What a memorable series it was, at Yankee Stadium.

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