There were indications Clayton Kershaw would have an abbreviated start in his last outing of the 2019 regular season, but he worked through six scoreless innings to help the Los Angeles Dodgers complete a sweep of the San Diego Padres behind a 1-0 victory.
“I wanted to go as much as I could today,” said Kershaw, before noting the outing was still somewhat shortened — by his standards. “There was that fifth — or whatever inning it was — that they fouled off 47 pitches, so it got my pitch count up.
“But overall a better day today. Felt like my stuff was a little bit crisper, command was a little better. It was a good one to build on.”
Kershaw was coming off a start in which he allowed a three home runs, a season high, for a third time this year. Kershaw nonetheless managed to get through six innings and though he lamented the performance, earned a win against the Colorado Rockies.
The left-hander has been hamstrung by struggles in the first inning throughout the season, and that again was the case at Petco Park. However, Kershaw didn’t allow a home run and wound up stranding a double and walk.
He retired 13 consecutive batters in a row and wound up scattering two hits to go along with seven strikeouts against one walk. “It’s just building confidence,” he said of settling into a rhythm.
“That’s the biggest thing. No matter how long you play this game, you struggle and your confidence is going to go here and there at times.
“I just went in with a mindset to be super aggressive and keep going, don’t worry about all the stuff that’s happened, and just kind of keep pitching. Just try to be a little more aggressive overall. The results were better today, for sure.
“If I had pitched poorly, it wouldn’t have been the end of the world but it wouldn’t have been fun going into the postseason having struggled. It’s definitely good to get some momentum going, get some confidence, realize the pitches I need to make are still in there.”
Kershaw’s next start is guaranteed to come in October, but details beyond that are not known. Dodgers manager Dave Roberts again declined to set his postseason rotation. For his part, Kershaw is poised to embrace any decision.
“We’ll see what they do with Games 1, 2 and 3,” he said. “Whatever game they have me in, I’ll work backwards from there and go.”