Dodgers change it up with Clayton Kershaw
Clayton Kershaw had thrown 107 pitches through seven innings, including 26 in the seventh. The San Francisco Giants had the top of the order coming up, the Dodgers trailed by one run, Kershaw was five pitches from his career high, and yet the Dodgers sent him out to start the eighth inning Sunday.
And, if the inning had gone the way Dodgers Manager Joe Torre had hoped, Kershaw would have pitched a perfect inning. That probably would have left him with a pitch count at 120 or more, approaching dangerous territory for a precocious young arm.
“We changed our philosophy on him coming into this year,” Torre said.
The Dodgers do not plan to enforce arbitrary limits on the 22-year-old left-hander this season. In his previous two starts this season, Kershaw had thrown 109 and 110 pitches.
He walked the leadoff batter in the eighth inning Sunday, and Torre removed him after a career-high 114 pitches. Torre defended his decision to extend Kershaw not by citing the Dodgers’ erratic bullpen — in fact, he did not mention the bullpen — but by saying Kershaw would be judged on how hard he has to work to get through his innings.
“That’s what we’ll look at more than pitch count,” Torre said.
In seven innings, Kershaw walked four and struck out nine. Aside from a solo home run by Juan Uribe, the Giants did not advance a runner past second base against Kershaw.
In February, the Dodgers announced that fans wishing to buy a ticket to one of the three games against the New York Yankees would have to buy tickets to at least 13 other games.
However, with sales sluggish for those 14-game packages, the Dodgers are making a new pitch to fans: If you want to see the Yankees, you have to buy a ticket to at least six other games.
Dodgers spokesman Josh Rawitch said the club would sell single-game tickets for the Yankees series, if available, at a later date. However, he said the club still believes it can sell out that series via the seven-game and 14-game ticket packages.
The Dodgers cut Russ Ortiz, who had a 10.29 earned-run average in six games, and promoted right-hander Jon Link from triple-A Albuquerque. The Dodgers acquired Link, 26, from the Chicago White Sox in the Juan Pierre trade.
Ortiz said he was not sure whether he would accept an assignment to Albuquerque.
Torre indicated Link might not stay around very long. Hong-Chih Kuo pitched a perfect inning at Class A Inland Empire on Sunday and, as long as he does not report any discomfort Monday, the Dodgers expect to activate him Tuesday.
The Dodgers also expect to reinstate reliever Ronald Belisario from the restricted list this week, possibly as soon as Wednesday.
The Dodger Stadium crowd rewarded Vin Scully with a standing ovation to mark the 60th anniversary of his first Dodgers broadcast.
Scully made his debut on opening day of the 1950 season, in the Brooklyn Dodgers’ 9-1 loss to the Philadelphia Phillies. Don Newcombe was the losing pitcher; Hall of Famer Robin Roberts was the winning pitcher.