PHOENIX -- For the second straight start Clayton Kershaw had his troubles on the mound in a Cactus League game, and he wasn't happy about it. Kershaw allowed five runs in just two innings in the Dodgers' 7-3 loss to the Athletics on Monday afternoon at Phoenix Municipal Stadium.
A frustrated Kershaw channeled U2's "So Cruel" after his outing.
"I don't have any excuses," he said. "I know it's spring training and it doesn't matter, but it matters to me."
After retiring the first six batters to start the game, including two by strikeout, Kershaw did the exact opposite in the third inning. He allowed three walks and a single to the first four batters of the inning to plate a run and load the bases.
"The first two innings it felt like most things were working. In the third inning obviously nothing was working. I don't know," Kershaw said. "If I knew [what was wrong] I would have fixed it."
"It seemed like he got out of rhythm in the third there and just didn't find it," said manager Don Mattingly.
When the count was 3-0 to old friend Nick Punto, Kershaw's fifth batter of the third, I felt compelled to research this. Kershaw had only walked four batters in an inning once in his career, on Aug. 3, 2009 against the Brewers, in the fourth inning. Kershaw only walked three batters in an inning once in 2013, last April 17 against the Padres.
Kershaw recovered to a full count, but Punto made him pay with a single to right center field to plate two runs. Kershaw was pulled, but the damage wasn't over. Brandon League entered in relief, but two walks and two hits later made it a 7-run inning for Oakland.
Kershaw didn't retire a batter in the third inning. He threw 50 pitches in the game, and with the elevated pitch count didn't throw in the bullpen afterward.
In two starts this spring, Kershaw has allowed eight runs on seven hits in four innings, with four walks and four strikeouts. Kershaw insists that physically he feels great, but that the results just haven't been there yet.
"I haven't felt great yet [on the mound]. Those first two innings I thought I figured some things out, and maybe I did," Kershaw said. "But it really doesn't matter after that third inning."
Mattingly remained unworried with Kershaw.
"He has level of expectation that he wants it to always be good. I have no problem with that," Mattingly said. "That's what spring training is all about, getting your arm strength and working on things. Even though he expects himself to be in midseason form, we want to keep working toward that."
The Dodgers are back at Camelback Ranch on Tuesday to host the Mariners. In what would have been a start for Zack Greinke will instead be a bullpen game, with reliever Brian Wilson starting for the Dodgers, against Felix Hernandez for Seattle.
Home runs: none
WP - Sean Doolittle (1-0): 1 IP, 2 strikeouts
LP - Clayton Kershaw (0-2): 2+ IP, 2 hits, 5 runs, 3 walks, 2 strikeouts