“I could care less now,” Kershaw said. “He didn’t pick us, so good luck to him.”
Couldn’t, Clayton. Couldn’t.
For what it’s worth, Ohtani thought the matchup was “fun.”
The moment came to leadoff the third inning, when Kershaw unloaded a 2-2 curveball to freeze Ohtani.
“I fell behind him 2-0 and had to throw him two fastballs that he fouled off,” Kershaw said. “That was four straight fastballs, so I just decided I needed to throw him something a little slower.”
That was one of two strikeouts for Kershaw, who pitched three scoreless innings but also allowed three hits and two walks.
“I threw a lot of pitches that third inning. It’s more of the up and downs now, trying to get four up and downs and good progression there,” Kershaw said. “The slider wasn’t great today. I definitely need to figure that one out, that’s important for me.”
His final frame (outside of a simulated inning in the bullpen that followed) saw Kershaw throw 30 pitches. He walked Ian Kinsler and Mike Trout back-to-back with two outs, then with the bases loaded ran the count to 3-0 to Justin Upton, who provided the escape hatch with a harmless pop up to shortstop.
Kershaw issued two walks in an inning just five times in his 208 innings in 2017, including the postseason.
“It wasn’t great. There was a lot of traffic out there on the bases,” Kershaw said. “I’m thankful that Upton swung at one and bailed me out.”
“Clayton today I know he wasn’t as sharp as I know he’d like to be. It seemed like it was a struggle for him,” manager Dave Roberts said. “His third inning he was 90-93 so that was a good thing.”
Kershaw lines up to start next on Monday against the Brewers, in what will be his fourth start of the spring. That will start a string of Dodgers pitchers actually hitting in games rather than use the designated hitter.
“Starting pitchers are already taking swings in the cage,” Roberts said. “Over the next few days we’ll get batting practice on the field.”
The Dodgers travel to Goodyear on Thursday for their first night game of the spring, a 5:05 p.m. PT start against the Indians. Alex Wood starts on the mound for the Dodgers, with Josh Tomlin going for Cleveland.