The Dodgers pull Clayton Kershaw during the perfect game

Clayton Kershaw has won three Sai Young National League awards, one NL Most Valuable Player Award and a World Series. He dropped a non-killing resume and compiled an almost definite Hall of Fame summary.

But he never played a perfect game, and his best chance of committing this exceptionally rare feat may have disappeared due to circumstances including the coach’s decision, his age and recent injury history and perhaps even a lockout imposed on the owner who dropped Premier League Baseball in uncertainty this winter.


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The 34-year-old Kershaw was absolutely dominant in his first start to the season, striking out 13 Minnesota Twins for seven innings and 80 fields on a cold day with 38 degrees at Target Field in Minneapolis.

But that was the end of his afternoon. Manager Dave Roberts challenged left-hander Alex Vesia to start the eighth inning, and any thoughts of a combined perfect game – this would be the first of its kind – soon ended when, with one exit, Twins catcher Gary Sanchez hit Vesi’s fifth shot to fall into the right. for one.

The perfect games were only 23, and none since Felix Hernandez of Seattle made it against Tampa Bay on August 15, 2012. Everything was prepared for Kershaw in Minnesota not only to celebrate another historic personal moment, but also to end the current drought-perfect game, the longest-running MLB since 1968, when Auckland Catfish Hunter made it against the Twins, and 1981 when Len Barker of Cleveland strangled Toronto.

But this was done before the era of height counting and conservation tactics, and Kershaw seemed to have become a willing victim of both, giving up his chance for perfection. Calling it “the right decision,” Kershaw told reporters “blame this lockout, blame that I didn’t take the ball for three months” in the offseason.

His age and the fact that Kershaw made just 22 starts last year and missed the entire postseason due to left forearm and elbow discomfort – and the fact that he has struggled with back problems in the past – undoubtedly contributed to the culprit. The Dodgers know how to manage the health and workload of their players, and under the leadership of Andrew Friedman, president of the baseball team, and Roberts, prefer steps to the long-term goal of winning the World Series than in the short term. the satisfaction of one moment or an individual player.

To that end, Roberts probably has far more experience than he would have liked in separating history from the Pitchers, as it was the fourth time in his seven-year tenure as Dodgers manager that he pulled a pitcher out of the perfect game or a non-striker. including the only other time since at least 1901 that pitcher was pulled out after seven perfect innings, according to Stats Perform.

Earlier, Roberts made the following decision:

  • Right-hander Ross Stripling made seven and third innings without strikes during his Premier League debut on April 8, 2016 in San Francisco before Roberts pulled it off after 100 innings. Noting, among other factors, that Stripling was removed just two years from Tommy John’s operation, Roberts, who was loudly whistled by San Francisco fans that night, called the decision “unpredictable.”

  • Left-hander Rich Hill, like Kershaw, was playing a perfect game when Roberts pulled him out. He served seven innings and scored 89 pitches just five months after playing Stripling on September 10, 2016 in Miami. Hill struggled with lingering bubble problems, and Roberts tried to nurse him throughout the season and keep him effective throughout October, so he made the unprecedented decision to remove it. “I feel sick to my stomach,” Roberts said at the time, noting that at 35, it may have been Hill’s best chance of immortality. The 42-year-old Hill is now heading to Boston.

  • Walker Buhler made six innings without injury in just his third major league game against San Diego in Monterey, Mexico, on May 4, 2018. But given Buhler’s youth and rainy night, Roberts pulled him out after 93 fields and called it a “pretty simple thing”. Tony Chingrani, Yimi Garcia and Adam Liberatere did not kill Padres until the end of the road and together with Buhler created the first combined striker in the team.

But Kershaw, just because of who he is and what he has done, takes another level. Had he completed the perfect game, it would have added to his legend and given MLB a moment of all time.

His slider was vintage, as evidenced by the 17 swings and misses of the “Twins” on the field on a cold day, when historians certainly remembered the Dodgers’ victory in the 1965 World Series over Minnesota. This title was limited to Hall of Fame member Sandy Kufax, who won the 7th game at the old Metropolitan Stadium in Bloomington, Mina, during a short break. The thread that connects the two left-handed aces goes back to the Dodgers story: Kershaw and Kufax have since forged a strong friendship and mutual admiration over the years.

One of the notable detractors in terms of the decision to remove Kershaw was Reggie Jackson, the Hall of Fame outfielder. Jackson, who played on the right athletics field during Hunter’s perfect game, expressed shock at Roberts ’decision on Twitter.

Meanwhile, Roberts recently recalled the importance of calibrating feed workloads. In October, mid-season-winning Max Scherzer failed to start in the National League championship series against Atlanta after he started one game and closed the second against San Francisco in the division series after starting a wild NL card against St. Louis. .

The Dodgers always plan their calendar around October. And what happened to Kershaw in Minnesota on Thursday afternoon in April was just the latest example.

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