Dodgers News: Clayton Kershaw Likens Comfort Level With Will Smith To Same As Austin Barnes

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Clayton Kershaw bounced back from allowing five runs in consecutive starts to hold the Texas Rangers to an unearned run over six innings and help the Los Angeles Dodgers extend their winning streak to four games.

His start on Friday differed not only from recent results but in that Kershaw formed a battery with Will Smith. It marked Smith’s first time catching the longtime ace this season and was largely due to Austin Barnes being behind the plate Thursday and not yet capable of making back-to-back starts due to a mild left ankle sprain.

“Will’s great. I have no problem throwing to Will,” Kershaw said after the Dodgers’ rout of the Rangers. “And I obviously have no problem throwing to Barnesy too. Barnesy is the man and I love throwing to Barnesy. It’s a good problem to have.

“I’ve just worked with Barnesy so long, but I think having the ability to throw to Will and have confidence in that will give Doc some options moving forward. If there’s anything that pops up, like Barnesy having an ankle thing, it gives us some options, which is good.”

Although Kershaw has been open about a strong rapport shared with Barnes, he has regularly been complimentary of Smith and their ability to work well together.

Dodgers manager Dave Roberts downplayed the switch in the series opener and reiterated the team is equally comfortable in pairing Kershaw with either catcher.

“I just think we believe in and like both of our catchers. Obviously there’s a comfort level with Clayton and Austin, but the way it’s played out right now, I definitely don’t think that it’s a bad thing to have Will catch him,” Roberts said.

“Regardless, every time he takes the mound I still think he’s going to throw the baseball really well.”

Kershaw ties Dodgers and MLB record

In addition to holding the Rangers to an unearned run, Kershaw finished the night with nine strikeouts. He had four of those in the fourth inning, which tied a Dodgers and MLB record for most in a single frame.

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