Clayton kershaw recorded 13 strikeouts, allowed just one point and left his Monday start against the visitors Arizona Diamondbacks to a rousing ovation, a fitting end to an encouraging return for the Los Angeles Dodgersiconic left-hander.
“There aren’t a lot of better feelings in the world than pitching here and getting a win,” Kershaw said after a 5-1 victory, his team is 92nd this season and fourth in a row. “It’s something special. I missed it.”
Kershaw, who is pitching for the first time since being arrested for an inflamed elbow more than two months ago, has recorded five strikeouts and allowed five baserunners in 4 ⅓ innings. His fastball averaged less than 90 mph and his slider wasn’t as sharp as he wanted, but he threw his curveball efficiently, generating a called strike or puff on 42% of those throws.
Kershaw, 33, and completing the final season of his contract, is lined up for at least three more starts this regular season – his next is Sunday, on the road against the Cincinnati Reds – and is expected to be extended as a traditional starter launcher by October. Shortly thereafter, he would form a devastating playoff rotation alongside Max Scherzer, Walker Buehler and Julio Urias (assuming the Dodgers, 2½ games behind the Giants of San Francisco, can somehow advance in the National League division series).
“I am grateful,” Kershaw said. “I didn’t really know what it was going to look like, honestly, at the end of this season. For me, being able to be a part of it is huge. I’ll never take that for granted, to be in a playoff race, to to be part of it. And it’s a good race right now. The Giants aren’t losing, so they’re not making it easy for us. It’s going to be fun. “
Kershaw, six days before leaving minor league rehab, allowed his only run on two hits and a walk in the first inning. He then struck out 10 of 12 batters and came out after throwing his 50th pitch at the top of the fifth – with his childhood friend, new The Los Angeles Rams strategist Matthew Stafford, looking from behind the marble.
Not that long ago, Kershaw had no idea when he would return or how much he could be stretched out. He admittedly tried to come back up too quickly after being placed on the injured list on July 7, suffering a setback in a mock San Francisco game 20 days later.
From there, the rehabilitation process proceeded methodically. The typical frustration of not being able to pitch was magnified by the timeliness within the list and the urgency within the leaderboard. Dodgers manager Dave Roberts admitted Kershaw was “miserable” until he finally returned.
“It was so good to see him there again, taking the ball,” said Justin Turner, longtime Kershaw teammate. “We talked before the game about how difficult it was for him not to be able to go there and compete every five days. We’re all delighted to see him there again. He’s our guy.”