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Home » Dodgers ace Clayton Kershaw taken out after pitching seven perfect innings against Twins – USA TODAY

Dodgers ace Clayton Kershaw taken out after pitching seven perfect innings against Twins – USA TODAY

In his first start of the 2022 season, 34-year-old Clayton Kershaw turned back the clock about a decade ago to when he was unquestionably the most dominant pitcher in baseball. 
The Los Angeles Dodgers left-hander and three-time Cy Young award winner tossed seven perfect innings Wednesday afternoon in a 7-0 Dodgers victory.
Kershaw didn’t get the opportunity to complete the 24th perfect game in MLB history when he was taken out in the bottom of the eighth inning after throwing 80 pitches, 53 of them for strikes.
“I would have loved to have stayed, but bigger things, man, bigger things,” Kershaw said.
Leaning heavily on his slider, Kershaw struck out 13 of the 21 Twins batters he faced.
Following conversations with manager Dave Roberts after the sixth and seventh innings, Kershaw was all smiles in the dugout when he was replaced by reliever Alex Vesia in the eighth. Because of the shortened spring training, the ace lefty had pitched just 11 2/3 innings in four spring outings. 
“Blame it on the lockout. Blame it on me not picking up a baseball until January,” Kershaw said. “My slider was horrible the last two innings. It didn’t have the bite. It was time.”
Roberts faced a similar decision six years ago when he pulled starter Rich Hill after 89 pitches and seven perfect innings against the Miami Marlins. That perfect game ended in the eighth — just as this one did. 
“Every decision I make is for the best interest of the player, their health and the ballclub, because there’s a lot of people that are cheering for the Dodgers, not only just for today and Clayton to throw a no-hitter, but for the Dodgers to win the World Series,” Roberts said. “For us to do that, we need him healthy.”
Vesia retired the first Twins batter, but gave up a line drive single to catcher Gary Sanchez to end the bid for MLB’s first-ever combined perfect game. Justin Bruihl pitched the ninth to complete the one-hit shutout. 
The last pitcher to toss a perfect game in the majors was Felix Hernandez of the Seattle Mariners, who did it in September 2012. The Dodgers have had only one in their history, by Hall of Famer Sandy Koufax in 1965.
While he hasn’t thrown a perfect game, Kershaw does have a no-hitter to his credit, dominating the Colorado Rockies on June 18, 2014 — a game in which he set a record for the most strikeouts in a no-hitter with 15. 
Contributing: The Associated Press


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