Clayton Kershaw made a solid return to the mound at Dodger Stadium Monday as he continued his march towards making a healthy push towards the postseason. The bullpen and offense gave plenty of support as the Dodgers cruised to a 5-1 win over the Diamondbacks.
The Dodgers have now won four consecutive games and they keep pace with the Giants who never seem to lose. The magic number to clinch a playoff spot is now down to two.
Arizona scored their only run on an RBI-single in the first inning against Kershaw, stringing together two hits and a walk in the first five hitters of the game. The Diamondbacks would have only four more hits the rest of the way as the Dodger bullpen continued to put up zeroes on the scoreboard.
The offense for the Dodgers immediately erased the one-run deficit with three runs of their own in the bottom half of the first.
Four of the first five hitters of the game reached base in the bottom of the first. After a leadoff double for Mookie Betts and a Trea Turner walk, Corey Seager singled in Betts and came around two pitches later on a two-run double for Justin Turner.
The latter Turner also mashed his 25th homer of the season to tack on an insurance run in the seventh.
The target for Kershaw going into the game was around four innings and 60 pitches as he looks to build his innings up. The 20 pitches in the first inning ended up not mattering as the lefty needed only 30 pitches to get the next 10 outs.
A line drive out on the first pitch to pitcher Zac Gallen in the top of the fifth brought manager Dave Roberts with a right arm pointed to the bullpen. Roberts summoned rubber arm Phil Bickford for the final two outs of the inning.
Kershaw finished with five strikeouts in 4 1⁄3 innings, allowing one run on four hits and a walk. Typically, the next step in building up length will be five innings and 75 pitches. The next start for Kershaw will come Sunday in Cincinnati.
“There’s not a lot of better feelings in the world than getting to pitch here and getting a win,” said Kershaw. “It’s a special thing. I missed it. It was good to be back.”
After flirting with a perfect game Sunday, Max Scherzer said he was excited to see Kershaw pitch as a teammate. What he didn’t count on was an infield single being part of the show.
Scherzer is 0-for-52 on the season and had a pretty great reaction to Kershaw’s single.
Clayton Kershaw got a hit in his first at-bat off the IL.— Fabian Ardaya (@FabianArdaya) September 14, 2021
Max Scherzer, who hasn’t reached base all year (literally), wasn’t having it. pic.twitter.com/2bcK0dlflt
-The first-inning double for Turner was his 20th on the season, giving him seven seasons with at least 20 in his eight seasons in Los Angeles. The shortened season in 2020 robbed him of eight straight after he had nine in 42 games.
-Austin Barnes was 2-for-4 with an RBI-double. It was the second multi-hit game for Barnes in his last four starts.
Home runs: Justin Turner (25)
WP — Phil Bickford (4-2): 1 IP, 1 hit
LP — Zac Gallen (2-10): 5.1 IP, 8 hits, 4 runs, 3 walks, 4 strikeouts
The Dodgers and Diamondbacks will continue with the middle game of the three-game series. Tony Gonsolin (2-1, 2.79) will get the ball for the Dodgers against right-hander Luke Weaver (3-4, 4.24).