Only five starts in, Clayton Kershaw’s 2014 season has already been unlike any other. He was placed on the disabled list for the first time in his career after his first start and prior to Friday’s start against the Philadelphia Phillies, Kershaw’s previous outing was a brief 1.2 innings.
The Arizona Diamondbacks chased Kershaw with seven runs as they hit one triple after another in the fateful second inning. The start was Kershaw’s shortest since 2010 when he got through 1.1 innings against the Milwaukee Brewers.
Naturally, Kershaw was looking forward to redeeming himself and after Friday’s win, he discussed the frustration that came with having to wait to get back on the mound, via Bill Plunkett of the OC Register:
Kershaw on living with 7R start in AZ: "Pretty miserable the last 4, 5 days. Not a whole lot of fun sitting on that start for 5 days."
— Bill Plunkett (@billplunkettocr) May 24, 2014
Kershaw reponded in resounding fashion, striking out nine in six shutout innings. Twice, the Phillies put two runners on with no outs and each time Kershaw escaped the trouble. One of the instances came in the fourth with the Phillies trailing 2-0, but and with men on second and third.
The Dodger ace promptly struck out the next three batters to end the fourth and keep the Dodgers ahead. Kershaw flashed his competitive spirit during a visit from pitching coach Rick Honeycutt in the sixth inning.
Again, with two runners on, Honeycutt went out to talk with Kershaw, who immediately barked at the coach upon seeing him emerge from the dugout. Kershaw capped off his final inning of the night by striking out Ryan Howard for the third time of the game.
Kershaw now sits at 3-1 with an inflated 3.49 ERA because of the uncharacteristic start in the desert. Friday was in line with what the Dodgers have come to expect from their ace and with their starting rotation now healthy, pitching may be what sparks the team going forward.
Dodgers Update: Clayton Kershaw’s Impressive Return, A.J. Ellis Improving