MINNEAPOLIS – It was an almost perfect reminder of what a healthy Clayton Kershaw and his slider can still do.
In his first start of the season after a winter of uncertainty, Kershaw was a throwback to his dominant days. He retired the 21 hitters he faced Wednesday afternoon, 13 by punch, and delivered a perfect game to the bullpen when Dodgers coach Dave Roberts pulled it off after 80 pitches.
Reliever Alex Vesia allowed a single to the second hitter he faced and the Dodgers had to settle for a whitewash of a hit in the 7-0 win over the Minnesota Twins on a cold day at Target Field.
There have been 23 perfect games in major league history. None of them involved more than one pitcher.
Kershaw went through the formation of the twins. He coached five of the nine batters for the first time in the lineup, seven of nine for the second.
His sliding control, the tone that elevated him to the status of a Hall of Fame worthy years ago, did most of the work. Kershaw threw his slider 23 times in 69 pitches during the first six innings. The Twins have placed in it 23 times, failed 16 times and taken four more for called-up shots.
On the rare occasions when the Twins put the ball into play, they produced a variety of lazy balls or routine outings, leaving little in the way of challenging plays for the Dodgers defense, until the seventh inning.
Kershaw punched Byron Buxton to start the inning and then pulled Luis Arraez out in a weak out. Gio Urshela coolly slotted it home for a 1 – 0 lead. The ground ball bounced through Kershaw and took a strange rebound on the pitcher’s mound. However, Gavin Lux made a spectacular save.
That came at the 80th Kershaw release in his first start of the season. Kershaw’s 2021 ended with him leaving the Dodger Stadium mound last weekend of the regular season, after losing a battle to return from a flexor tendon elbow injury that cost him two months of the season (and that would cost him all post-season).
Kershaw received a platelet-rich plasma injection shortly after that aborted start and did not catch a ball for three months. When late and reduced spring training was reported, Kershaw was healthy and looked strong for four preseason starts.
But the Dodgers delayed the first start of the Kershaw season so he could keep moving forward. He threw 75 shots to the batters at Dodger Stadium before the team traveled to Colorado last week.
Roberts pulled him out after the age of 80 on Wednesday, and became the first coach in baseball history to pull off a pitcher twice so late in a possible perfect game. He became the first to do so until once when he took out Rich Hill after seven perfect innings against the Miami Marlins in September 2016. Hill had bubble problems on his pitching hand and Roberts didn’t want to risk repeating so close. to the playoffs.
Earlier that year, Roberts also pulled Ross Stripling out of the eighth inning of his major league debut with a no-hits game. Reliever Chris Hatcher gave a home run to the first hitter he faced.
Kershaw threw the entire game with the lead after the Dodgers sent eight batters to the plate in the first inning.
Mookie Betts led with a double. A single on the field and a hitter (Max Muncy) loaded the bases with an out and Justin Turner put two with a single on the right. An error re-loaded the bases but Cody Bellinger struck out and Lux came out.
The Dodgers added another run in the second when Betts made a single, went on to third with a Freddie Freeman double and scored on a Trea Turner sacrifice fly.
They put the game in the eighth when Bellinger, Lux and Austin Barnes hit consecutive homers in a span of four shots from Twins reliever Dereck Rodriguez. Max Muncy made a four-run home run for the Dodgers with a solo homer in the ninth inning.
Clayton Kershaw perfect for seven innings but pulled in Dodgers win – Press Telegram Source link Clayton Kershaw perfect for seven innings but pulled in Dodgers win – Press Telegram