This season has been one long farewell to arms for the Dodgers, who lost Tony Gonsolin to a left ankle sprain and Ryan Pepiot to a left oblique strain in March, Dustin May to a serious forearm injury and Julio Urías to a left hamstring strain in mid-May, and Noah Syndergaard and his unsightly 7.16 ERA to a blister in early June.
The one constant in this cluster of calamities, the only pitcher to not miss a start through a haze of injuries and ineffectiveness, is the 35-year-old left-hander with a balky lower back and an elbow that gave out on him in 2021, causing him to miss three months of that season.
Clayton Kershaw took the Angel Stadium mound Tuesday night with the Dodgers reeling from a lopsided three-game weekend sweep at the hands of the San Francisco Giants, and the three-time National League Cy Young Award winner did what he has done so often, twirling a gem when his team needed it most.
Kershaw threw seven scoreless innings, giving up five hits, striking out five and walking two, and escaped a harrowing second-and-third, no-outs jam in the seventh to lead the Dodgers to a 2-0 victory before a sellout crowd of 44,703 in the opener a two-game Freeway Series.
“It’s hard for me to gain any more respect for Clayton, but given the state of our roster, certainly the starting pitching … right now, he’s the only one standing from opening day,” Dodgers manager Dave Roberts said. “So for him to not only realize that but accept the responsibility, but not add pressure to himself, it’s a skill. The way he goes about things … he’s just so consistent, and I can’t imagine where we’d be without him.”
Angels left-hander Reid Detmers matched Kershaw with seven scoreless innings, giving up two hits, striking out eight and walking one, but the Dodgers bunched four hits to score twice off Angels reliever Chris Devenski (3-2) in the top of the eighth.
Miguel Rojas hit a one-out double to left field and scored on Michael Busch’s single that took a wicked hop over the head of Angels first baseman Kevin Padlo for a 1-0 lead. Freddie Freeman singled to left-center with two outs, advancing Busch to third, and Will Smith hit a single to left to make it 2-0.
“When I got the hit, Padlo goes, ‘Did you kick the dirt and put holes over here?’ ” Freeman said. “I wish I could take credit for that, but that was a massive hop. Glad it happened for us.”
Dodgers left-hander Caleb Ferguson retired the side in order in the bottom of the eighth, striking out Shohei Ohtani, baseball’s hottest hitter, swinging at a 97-mph fastball and Mike Trout looking at a 96-mph fastball. Evan Phillips threw a one-two-three ninth with two strikeouts for his eighth save.
Kershaw (9-4) caught a huge break in the fourth when an apparent Angels run was nullified by a replay review that overturned a safe call at the plate, but he did not need any assistance to extricate himself from a tight spot in the seventh.
Brandon Drury led off the inning with a single and took third on Hunter Renfroe’s double to right. Kershaw, with the infield shallow but not all the way in, got Padlo to ground out to shortstop, the runners holding, and struck out Chad Wallach with a full-count slider.
Luis Rengifo walked on a full-count pitch to load the bases, but No. 9 hitter Andrew Velasquez, swinging at the first pitch, grounded out to short on Kershaw’s 103rd pitch to end the inning.
“If one person’s gonna get out of that, you feel like it’s gonna be Kersh,” Freeman said. “He continues to do it, year in and year out. It’s absolutely incredible. When we needed him the most, he did it again. He’s been doing that for the Dodgers since 2008, and we needed him 15 years later to do it again.”
Six of Kershaw’s wins this season, including four of his last five starts, have come after losses. Kershaw ended the Dodgers’ four-game skid with seven shutout innings in a 6-0 victory at Cincinnati on June 8, and the Dodgers had lost 10 of 14 games entering Tuesday.
Kershaw, who improved to 10-2 with a 1.99 ERA in 16 career starts against the Angels, held them hitless Tuesday before Drury’s two-out single in the fourth inning.
Renfroe followed with a double that one-hopped the wall in left-center, and Angels third base coach Bill Haselman waved the heavy-legged Drury home.
Dodgers center fielder James Outman fired to Rojas, whose relay throw home bounced toward the first base side of the plate. Smith, the Dodgers catcher, made a nice backhanded scoop and lunged toward Drury, tagging the runner in the chest as Drury reached for the plate with his right hand.
Home plate umpire Sean Barber ruled Drury safe, but after a lengthy replay review, the call was overturned, erasing a run off the board for the Angels and ending the inning.
“I thought it was one of those plays where whatever call was made was gonna stand,” Freeman said. “I think everyone on the field thought it was gonna stand. But it was a great relay from James to Miggy and a heck of a play by Will, the pick and the dive back. I didn’t know which way it was gonna go. From my perspective, I thought he was out, but I thought it wasn’t gonna be enough evidence to overturn.
“Glad they did.”
This story originally appeared in Los Angeles Times.
Source: Yahoo Sports