An eerie, sudden hush fell upon Hohokam Stadium on Friday afternoon in Mesa, Ariz.
Clayton Kershaw, the National League's reigning MVP and Cy Young winner, had stabbed with his glove at a broken-bat comebacker and missed, the Andy Parrino drive hitting him on the lower left side of the face as he collapsed in front of the mound.
Trainers, coaches, teammates all rushed to his side as their franchise player sat on the edge of the mound dirt. Everyone in the stadium seemed afraid to take a breath.
But after being examined by head trainer Stan Conte, the left-hander remained in the game, finished the inning and actually threw two more in the Dodgers' 3-2 loss to the A's.
Kershaw suffered a chipped tooth and a sore jaw, but otherwise appeared fine. In his five innings, he allowed one run on three hits, striking out four and not walking a batter.
The Dodgers had learned earlier in the day that they might have to start the season without left-hander Hyun-Jin Ryu (shoulder soreness), and the thought of losing their ace sent a scare through the organization, if not a chill throughout the ballpark.
Kershaw, however, not only finished his scheduled five innings, but then walked to the bullpen -- the crowd giving him a nice ovation -- to get in a little additional work.
The battle for the bullpen continued hot after he left -- J.P. Howell, Adam Liberatore and David Aardsma all throwing a scoreless inning. Liberatore, a left-hander acquired in the trade that brought reliever Joel Peralta from the Rays, has yet to allow a run in his six appearances (six innings, six strikeouts, no walks, three hits).
Minor leaguer Blake Smith gave up two runs in the ninth to take the loss.
On offensive, the Dodgers were relatively quiet. They managed only four hits, two from Andre Ethier, who has four in the last two games.