Rockies sock three homers off Clayton Kershaw to defeat the Dodgers, 4-2
The first home run forced Clayton Kershaw to hunch at the waist. He tracked the baseball as it cleared Coors Field’s center-field fence. Kershaw did not turn to watch the second homer. He did not care to witness history.
Before the sixth inning of Saturday’s 4-2 Dodgers loss to the Colorado Rockies, never had Kershaw given up homers in consecutive at-bats.
The duo of Mark Reynolds and Gerardo Parra blasted a small place in Kershaw’s legacy. Kershaw indicated he was unaware of the career-long streak, but he felt the weight of its disappearance.
“I didn’t know that,” Kershaw said. “That was cool, for a little bit, I guess. You never except to give up home runs.”
Yet, Kershaw (1-1, 3.46 ERA) gave up three Saturday, the most he had surrendered in a game since 2013. He had not given up multiple homers in an inning since 2009. In 21 starts last season, Kershaw gave up eight homers. He has given up four in his first two outings in 2017.
The barrage Saturday did not panic manager Dave Roberts. For five innings, Kershaw resembled a reasonable version of himself. He gave up a solo shot in the first inning but otherwise avoided danger. Roberts chose to view the sixth inning as an anomaly.
“The slider to Reynolds and the fastball to Parra were just center-cut,” Roberts said. “The stuff was good, all night. Outside of those pitches, he was really good.”
Roberts added the standard caveat that accompanies those rare outings when Kershaw resembles an ordinary pitcher.
“He’s human,” he said.
The Dodgers failed to support their starting pitcher for the second day in a row at Coors Field, one of the sport’s friendliest parks for hitters. On Friday, the offense sputtered along as Hyun-Jin Ryu made his second start in three years. A day later, the lineup went one for seven with runners in scoring position and stranded six men. A fifth-inning homer by Andrew Toles and a run-scoring single in the eighth by Adrian Gonzalez prevented a shutout.
The meager output fit an unfortunate trend for the season’s first week. The Dodgers produced 24 runs in two of their games against San Diego. In the other four games, the offense produced only five. Roberts conceded that some of his hitters have wasted at-bats this weekend.
“It’s not from lack of effort,” Roberts said. “We’re going to hit. We’re going to score runs. I don’t think we’re too concerned over these first two games.”
“He was who he is, wildly effective, using the fastball,” Gonzalez said. “Nothing surprised us. The balls that we did hit, they made some good plays behind him.”
Kershaw was pitching at Coors Field for the first time since 2015. His summertime stint on the disabled list last year overlapped with two Dodgers trips to Denver. But he had been away long enough to forget how pitchers get treated at this place.
“You can’t worry about it,” Kershaw said. “You just need to pitch. Tonight, I don’t think that was a factor. The balls that were going to go out, I think, were going to go out.”
In the first inning, after two outs, Kershaw attempted to spin a 2-and-2 curveball past third baseman Nolan Arenado. The pitch hung at Arenado’s waist. He powered it over the center-field fence for an opening strike.
Kershaw evaded trouble in the third. With two outs, outfielder Charlie Blackmon stung a fastball down the first base line. The ball rattled around the left-field corner long enough for Blackmon to reach third base. Kershaw pounded his glove and squared off with second baseman DJ LeMahieu. The encounter lasted only one pitch, an inside slider that LeMahieu tapped to third base for a groundout.
“The first innings, I was great with,” Kershaw said. “That one home run to Nolan was a pitch I shouldn’t throw. But you’ve got to finish out your outing.”
The Rockies made hard contact against Kershaw in the fourth and the fifth innings. But he did not stumbled until the sixth inning. With a runner at first, his slider to Reynolds failed to dart. Instead, it hovered over the middle, where Reynolds met it with the barrel of his bat.
The next one disappeared quickly. Parra pounced on a fastball and deposited it in the pine forest planted beyond the center-field fence.
Kershaw steadied himself to finish the inning. But he could not erase this small moment of history.
“It’s a good team,” Kershaw said. “You can’t make mistakes. And I just made too many tonight.”
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