Dodgers ace Clayton Kershaw made his second and likely final minor league rehab start on Wednesday, allowing two runs on six hits in five innings for Double-A Chattanooga against the Tennessee Smokies (Cubs).
Kershaw struck out nine and walked two in his first Double-A start in six years, throwing 86 pitches. He was between 89-93 mph on the stadium gun, per the Lookouts' radio broadcast and some attendees on Twitter.
Kershaw needed 29 pitches to get through the first inning, extended in part by a fielding error by first baseman O'Koyea Dickson and another error by shortstop Erisbel Arruebarrena on a rundown after Kershaw picked off super prospect Kris Bryant at first base. Kershaw allowed an unearned run in the first on a two-out RBI double by Dustin Geiger, but also struck out three.
Kershaw also allowed a run on three hits in the fifth inning, and also struck out the side in that frame.
"I think it went alright. I got my pitch count up there. With 87 [pitches], I would have liked to get through six or seven, but the goal was to get the pitch count up there," Kershaw told reporters after the game (per the Lookouts). "It’s always hard when pitch counts are in the back of your mind, but the goal is to get the pitch count up there so that I’ll be ready to throw 100+ pitches in the big leagues. At the same time, you’re trying to compete, too. It’s a little bit of a balance, but fortunately for me, I’m done with that and I can just go out there and pitch now."
Chattanooga made three errors behind Kershaw.
At the plate, Kershaw walked in his first plate appearance in the second inning and executed a sacrifice bunt in the fourth.
Then there was this:
Oh, minors. Kershaw departs after 5 innings, and a woman tosses a ball for him to sign, hitting him in the chest when he isn't looking.— Ian (@vamosbravos) May 1, 2014
Kershaw threw 56 pitches in his rehab start for Class-A Rancho Cucamonga on Friday, so he figures to rejoin the Dodgers rotation at some point for the Dodgers against the Washington D.C., as early as Monday.
"His next start will be at the 75-80 pitch range, and we feel like he'd be 90-95 when he's ready to start," manager Don Mattingly said on Sunday.