September 25, 2023

Clayton Kershaw shines in Dodgers win after recent struggles, Sisters notes

LOS ANGELES, CA - JUNE 02: Los Angeles Dodgers starting pitcher Clayton Kershaw (22) delivers a pitch.
Dodgers starting pitcher Clayton Kershaw scores on Friday-evening in an 8-4 victory over the New York Yankees at Dodger Stadium. Kershaw gave up four hits, two runs and struckout nine batters in seven innings. (Gary Coronado/Los Angeles Times)

When Clayton Kershaw climbed the hill on Friday night, his world’s typically regulated rotation suddenly turned upside down.

Off the field, the 35-year-old was under an unusually intense spotlight, thrusting himself into the center of the Dodgers’ recent Pride Night controversy after publicly disagreeing with the team’s decision to replace the Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence. honor – and urged the club. relaunch of Christian Faith and Family Day — earlier this week.

On the field, the three-time Cy Young Award winner hadn’t been in a great space either.

May was one of the worst months of the southpaw’s career, as he posted a 5.55 ERA in five starts (he pitched just once past the fifth inning). His command was also gone, leading to a bevy of ramblings and a barrage of questions about the pitcher’s unusual struggles.

“Nobody expects more from himself than Clayton, and especially the bar he’s set for himself,” manager Dave Roberts said Friday afternoon, hours before the first pitch. “Command is what made him great. So to see three or four outings where the order wasn’t what it is, I think that’s frustrating for him.

But ever the optimist, Roberts then made a prediction.

“My bet,” he said, “is that it will be cleaned up.”

Indeed it was, with Kershaw returning to form in the Dodgers’ 8-4 victory over the New York Yankees in a sold-out Dodger Stadium.

As the offense broke out for a six-run first inning against Luis Severino that looked more like batting practice, it was Kershaw who led the club for the rest of the win.

Dodgers starting pitcher Clayton Kershaw delivers against the New York Yankees on Friday.

Dodgers starting pitcher Clayton Kershaw delivers against the New York Yankees on Friday. (Gary Coronado/Los Angeles Times)

He threw seven strong innings and gave up only two runs on four hits. He pounded the zone, struckout nine batters and threw only 31 balls in 96 pitches.

Most of all, he performed more like his typical self, the one who complemented his already Hall of Fame-caliber credentials by winning National League pitcher of the month in April – before sliding through an inconsistent May.

“It just feels good to pitch well,” said Kershaw after the game. “Definitely better than the last few. Could get deeper into the game.”

Kershaw’s week had begun with very scrutinized comments he made on Monday.

In an interview with The Times, Kershaw publicly explained that he disagreed with honoring the sisters, saying he felt the drag group was “making fun of other people’s religions” through their satirical depictions of nuns and other Christian images.

In the four days since, Kershaw’s comments sparked backlash from some, but also made him one of many players and politicians to criticize the Dodgers’ decision to honor the LGBTQ+ support group at their Pride Night later this year. month.

However, Kershaw said nothing affected his preparation on Friday.

“It’s baseball,” he said. “It’s what I know.”

Mookie Betts singles to center during the eighth inning against the Yankees at Dodger Stadium.
Mookie Betts singles to center during the eighth inning on Friday. (Gary Coronado/Los Angeles Times)
Dodgers right fielder Mookie Betts is congratulated by Dodgers first baseman Freddie Freeman.
Dodgers right fielder Mookie Betts, right, is congratulated by Dodgers first baseman Freddie Freeman after hitting a solo home run in the first inning on Friday. (Gary Coronado/Los Angeles Times)

That was clear from the start, after we climbed the hill to a chorus of applause.

Kershaw gave up a single on his first pitch of the game, but then induced a double play by Aaron Judge and struckout Anthony Rizzo with three consecutive strikes.

The attack saw him gain a lead soon after. Mookie Betts hit an opening home run, one of his two long balls in a four-hit game. Max Muncy added a two-run blast. And by the time the six-run, eight-hit, 11-hitting inning ended, Kershaw switched to cruise control for the remainder of his rebound outing.

He gave up long solo home runs to Josh Donaldson in the second and Giancarlo Stanton in the fourth. But he also gave up only one hit and one walk in his last six innings.

He mixed his slider and curveball well and caused a total of 13 swinging blows. As he left the mound for the last time, a season-high crowd of 52,534 stood up.

Dodgers third baseman Max Muncy celebrates after hitting a solo home run in the first inning on Friday.

Dodgers third baseman Max Muncy celebrates after hitting a solo home run in the first inning on Friday. (Gary Coronado/Los Angeles Times)

“He was great,” said Roberts. “The stuff was what we’re used to seeing.”

The Dodgers could use more of the same from Kershaw in the coming weeks.

They are still running a rotation with two rookies in Michael Grove and Bobby Miller, who will start Saturday and Sunday respectively. Roberts also said on Friday that struggling veteran Noah Syndergaard will remain in the rotation for now, making a start in Cincinnati on Wednesday despite a 6.54 ERA.

It means Kershaw, alongside right-hander Tony Gonsolin, will soon have to help shoulder the burden – as Kershaw has done for much of his career as the Dodgers’ longtime ace.

‘The man [has] have done it for so many years,” said Roberts. “That’s someone you expect to win when he goes up the hill.”

In May, such a claim began to appear untrue – leading to subtle doubts that even Kershaw admitted to feeling herself.

“I think everyone, if you don’t pitch well, it’s just human nature,” he said.

But on Friday, despite his recent slump and self-invited scrutiny, he tapped back to the old dominant, reliable version of himself.

“Luckily I had a good one tonight,” Kershaw said, before joking about his age in his 16th major league season. “It feels good to think I’m not old.”

This story originally appeared in the Los Angeles Times.

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