OKLAHOMA CITY -- He would've preferred to be pitching against the Milwaukee Brewers in Los Angeles on Saturday night, but instead, Dodgers ace Clayton Kershaw made the most of five innings with Triple-A Oklahoma City.Pitching in a live game for the first time in more than a month, Kershaw allowed
OKLAHOMA CITY -- He would've preferred to be pitching against the Milwaukee Brewers in Los Angeles on Saturday night, but instead, Dodgers ace Clayton Kershaw made the most of five innings with Triple-A Oklahoma City.
Pitching in a live game for the first time in more than a month, Kershaw allowed a run on two hits with eight strikeouts against Omaha in his rehab assignment at Chickasaw Bricktown Ballpark.
"It was fun to pitch again. It had been a long time," Kershaw said. "Everything felt healthy and good to go, so I'm ready for the next one.
"Command was OK. Didn't walk anybody tonight. Got behind a few hitters, but for the most part, I thought everything went all right."
Sharp from the beginning, Kershaw threw 64 pitches, 43 for strikes, and threw a first-pitch strike to 13 of the 16 batters he faced.
"That was good. It was a good night," manager Dave Roberts said after the Dodgers' 3-0 loss to the Brewers at Dodger Stadium. "Obviously, you wanna win every game, but to hear him [Kershaw] complete five innings, the velocity, his pitch mix was good. Execution good. I think that's very exciting for all of us."
He gave up a solo home run to Jorge Soler and an infield single, getting stuck with the loss in a 4-0 Omaha victory. It was Kershaw's first appearance at the Triple-A level.
"Hope I don't ever do it again, but it was fun," Kershaw said.
Roberts said Kershaw's next start will be for the Dodgers in San Diego, either Friday or Saturday.
Kershaw's efficiency stood out to Oklahoma City pitching coach Matt Herges.
"He had just done simulated games," Herges said. "It feels weird, after a long time off, to face hitters, the adrenaline and all that stuff.
"Three three-ball counts, and they all ended in strikeouts with sliders. No walks. He is about as efficient as they come, regardless. That's what I was most worried about -- being able to get him up five times. And he made it easy."
Out since July 24 with a lower back strain, the focus of Saturday night's outing was on how Kershaw handled pitching after sitting in the dugout while Oklahoma City was batting.
"The pitch count wasn't that big a deal," Herges said. "It was about, sit down for a while, get up, go out, repeat. He wanted the five up-and-downs.
"Everything that he and the Dodgers wanted to get done got done."
Entering the fourth inning, Kershaw had not pitched with a runner on base. He chose to throw out of the stretch to work on his form.
Omaha's second batter of the inning, Paulo Orlando, reached on an infield single, but Kershaw caught him leaning toward second base and picked him off.
With a 15-2 record and a 2.04 ERA this season, Kershaw should be in line to return to the Dodgers' rotation next weekend in San Diego.
"Getting back out there for the fifth inning was good," he said. "I didn't know, with my pitch count, if I was gonna be able to go five, but I was able to keep the pitch count down.
"I feel like I've always been ready, but this is part of the process. Glad I got this one under my belt and I'm ready to get back up there."
Scott Wright is a contributor to MLB.com based in Oklahoma City.