MINNEAPOLIS – Given the circumstances, Clayton Kershaw knew the inevitable would happen.
The three-time NL Cy Young winner showed off his old form on Wednesday, in the Dodgers’ 7-0 win over the Twins, pitching seven perfect innings in his first start of 2022. He had thrown 80 pitches and appeared to be on pace for his second no-hitter and perhaps the first perfect game of his 15-year career with Los Angeles.
But Kershaw had to consider the left forearm injury he dealt with last year, and the platelet-rich injection he received in October that delayed his offseason preparation.
So, Kershaw knew manager Dave Roberts would ask for the ball.
“Blame the bosses’ strike. Blame me for not being able to catch a ball until January,” said the 34-year-old left-hander, who pitched a no-hitter in 2014 against the Rockies. “My slider was horrible the last two innings. He didn’t have the same grip. It was the moment”.
Alex Vesia relieved him and gave up a single to Gary Sánchez in the eighth inning, ending with the perfect game and no-hitter.
“I like the idea of preventing runs against in a particular game,” Roberts said. “This position is not good, as far as decision making is concerned. But in the end, I have to take them. I think it was the best decision, both for the club and for the player. I feel good about it. But those guys make it hard for me. We have very good players.”
Certainly, Kershaw’s health was a factor in the decision.
“He’s very honest and understanding about his physical situation, how he was feeling and what was at stake – the win, the no-hitter and a potential physical problem. All of that matters,” Roberts said. “There is no absolute answer, but in this case it was clear to me.”
Kershaw acknowledged that he would have liked to continue on the mound, but accepted that it was the “best decision.”
“At the end of the day, it’s individual things. Selfish goals,” Kershaw said. “We are trying to win. That’s what we’re here for. As much as I wish I had, I had thrown 75 pitches in a simulated game. He hadn’t gone six innings, let alone seven. Sure, I would have loved to, but maybe I’ll get another chance, who knows?
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Roberts’ Kershaw: ‘It was the best decision’