Flawless but incomplete. Kershaw’s seven perfect innings closed cold Twins bats

Clayton Kershaw’s main goal on Wednesday was not to throw a perfect game, though he could very well have done so if Dodgers manager Dave Roberts had not drawn him after the seventh inning of a 7-0 win over the Twins.

No, the left’s pristine stat line complete with 13 strikeouts was just a byproduct of trying to get his teammates back to their own beds and the sunny California weather as soon as possible since Tuesday’s game ended after midnight due to a delay in the rain.

“Just go fast,” Kershaw said of his ethos in the game. “It was cold. I think after the game last night, how late it was and the quick turnaround, I knew everyone was grinding except me. I got a good night’s sleep so I was ready to go. “

Kershaw sent the Twins batters in a one-two-three way until he hit 80 spots in his season debut. With the lockout shortening the spring camp, Kershaw was built up to just about 75 spots and six innings. Roberts consulted him after the sixth, and Kershaw called that he would pitch one more before stopping around 80-85 pitches.

The 34-year-old – whose 2021 season ended before the playoffs due to arm pain – said it was a difficult decision, especially considering catcher Austin Barnes. Boos rained down from the announced crowd of 17,101 fans, many wearing Dodgers blue, at Target Field as Alex Vesia checked in for the eighth inning.

It could have been the 24th perfect game in MLB’s history, the first since Felix Hernandez did it for Seattle on August 15, 2012. Kershaw, a triple Cy Young Award winner, threw a no-hitter against Colorado in 2014.

Vesia allowed a Gary Sanchez single in the eighth for the twins’ only hit; there has never been a combined perfect game in majors.

“There’s a time when I have to decide, ‘Why?'” Roberts said. “I’m just as big a fan as everyone else and I’m a fan of Clayton and seeing a battery of him and Austin to throw a perfect game or a no-hitter, I’m all in. But again, to what what does it cost?

“… There are a lot of people cheering on the Dodgers, not just for [this game] and Clayton for throwing a no-hitter, but for the Dodgers to win the World Series. “In order to do that, we need him healthy.”

Roberts said the decision was actually quite easy given the long-term goals of the team and Kershaw. That move also did not seem to shock the twins, including manager Rocco Baldelli. Baldelli praised Kershaw’s shooter, who made the most of his injury as he did not hit much harder than about 90 mph.

“It’s not about speed. He’s pretty good at deciding what he does. His delivery is unique. If you’ve not seen it a lot, I’ve bet it’s hard to find the release point of where it’s coming out. , “said Baldelli. “… It looked like the shooter was just a trajectory, I do not know if it was hard to pick up and spin or whatever, but it seemed like the turns looked like they were attacking fastballs, and they were not fastballs. They were shooters. “

Imperfect as it was, LA still took the two-game sweep, putting the Twins at 2-4 on their season-starting home field. And the Dodgers dominated offensively and hit four homeruns from the Twins relievers.

“There are a lot of people cheering on the Dodgers, not just for [this game] and Clayton for throwing a no-hitter, but for the Dodgers to win the World Series. “In order to do that, we need him healthy.”

Dave Roberts, Dodgers manager

Chris Paddack, who came into a trade from the Padres the day before the season opener, made his Twins debut and went four innings, allowing six hits and three earned runs while hitting out three.

Dereck Rodriguez, who was called up from Class AAA St. Paul before Wednesday’s game, hit four innings and didn’t allow a hit until the eighth, allowing back-to-back-to-back homers from the bottom of the Dodgers lineup. Griffin Jax, another recent call-up, hit the ninth and gave up a solo homer to Max Muncy.

Defensively, the twins were also a bit sloppy, with first-inning errors from third baseman Gio Urshela and Paddack as the Dodgers scored twice.

Fortunately for the twins, their performance is not what people will remember from this game.

“We have a couple of guys who hit very well,” Urshela said of Kershaw. “And they had no luck.”

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