Los Angeles Dodgers ace Clayton Kershaw, a late scratch for the season opener last month, allowed three hits and struck out six across 5⅔ innings in his 2020 debut Sunday against the Arizona Diamondbacks.
Kershaw left with a 3-0 lead, after throwing 81 pitches, 57 of them for strikes. He walked none. Not long after Kershaw left the game, Dodgers right fielder Mookie Betts departed with a sore middle finger on his left hand.
Betts hit a home run that splashed into the Chase Field swimming pool beyond the right-center field wall in the fifth inning. He appeared to hurt his finger earlier in the at-bat, and the star right fielder was pulled for a pinch hitter in the seventh.
Following the Dodgers’ 3-0 victory, manager Dave Roberts said X-rays on Betts’ finger were negative and he is day-to-day. Roberts said Betts was removed from the game because he had a lot of swelling on the finger.
Betts was pulled early for the second straight game. Roberts said on Saturday that Betts was battling sore legs from playing on the D-backs’ artificial turf.
Kershaw retired his first 10 batters and his fastball was in the 92-94 mph range. The left-hander didn’t allow a baserunner until Starling Marte and Christian Walker hit back-to-back singles in the fourth inning. Kershaw retired the next two hitters, fanning Kole Calhoun to end the threat.
“It was fun, I missed it,” Kershaw said. “It was hard to miss opening day and I didn’t know how long it would take for my back to get better. It bounced back pretty quick, so I was just thankful to get out there today. Felt good, it was awesome.”
Kershaw was scratched just four hours before the season opener vs. the San Francisco Giants because of back stiffness.
Kershaw’s back originally stiffened up while he went about his normal routine in the weight room in the days leading up to the Dodgers’ opener, but an MRI later that day came back clean. He received treatment over the next couple of days but couldn’t get his back loose enough to make his first start.
Kershaw’s return is a welcome addition on several levels for a Dodgers’ rotation that lost starter Alex Wood to the injured list because of shoulder inflammation last week.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.