Clayton Kershaw did not factor into the decision, but most importantly looked very much like his usual self on Wednesday against the Yankees. Just about the only thing standing in his way was the weather.
A 12-minute rain delay was a brief hindrance in the middle of the fourth, and Kershaw retired his first 12 batters of the game. But another, more significant rain delay brought the tarp again, this time a 48-minute stoppage of the game.
Kershaw is in just his second start since coming off the disabled list, is walking a tightrope of making sure he’s healthy while also needing to build up his pitch count and arm strength for the playoffs. So he was back out on the mound once play resumed to start the fifth.
His perfect game ended on an error by Justin Turner, then Chase Headley cleanly singled to left to put two runners on. A sacrifice bunt put both runners in scoring position with one out in a scoreless game, but Kershaw struck out Rob Refsnyder and Austin Romine to end the threat and keep the game tied. Kershaw screamed in triumph as he walked off the mound.
“It was an important at-bat, 0-0 still. You’re trying to keep the team in the game,” Kershaw told reporters, as seen on SportsNet LA. “I was throwing out of the stretch for the first time in the game and I was leaving a lot of stuff up. I was finally able to throw a good slider, so it was good. It was fun.”
Kershaw finished his day with just one hit allowed and five strikeouts in his five innings, and on the season has 155 strikeouts against only nine walks in 129 innings.
“I don’t think he could have done any better under the circumstances,” manager Dave Roberts said after the game. “The fastball was good, the velocity was really plus. He got the strikeout when he needed to. To see Clayton go out there and do what he does was good for us.”
Kershaw threw just 64 pitches in the game on Wednesday, but add in the 16 pitches he threw in a simulated inning during the second delay, per Alanna Rizzo during the SportsNet LA game broadcast, and Kershaw threw the equivalent of six innings and 80 pitches.
“We wanted to have him keep going to get his pitch count up,” Roberts explained after the game. “Another 10 minutes [of rain delay], I think we would have went to the pen in the fifth inning. It was close.”
That lines up Kershaw to be ready to go at likely nearly full bore in his next time out, next Monday against the Giants at Dodger Stadium.
“It’s a good springboard for the next one,” Kershaw said.
On his game-winning double in the ninth inning, Justin Turner slid full speed into the back of Starlin Castro’s leg at second base. After a visit from team trainer Nate Lucero, Turner stayed in the game and eventually scored.
"I jammed up my neck a little bit," he told Rizzo after the game. "I'll probably be a little bit sore tonight."
The Dodgers fly to Phoenix, where they will start a four-game weekend series against the Diamondbacks on Thursday night. Rich Hill starts the opener with an active streak of 22 consecutive batters retired. Archie Bradley starts for Arizona in the 6:40 p.m. PT start.