The King…has returned.
Clayton Kershaw returned after missing the last 10 weeks with a back injury, but the Los Angeles Dodgers fell to the Miami Marlins, 4-1, on Friday night at Marlins Park.
Kershaw (11-3) lasted just three innings and threw 66 pitches as he works his way back into the rotation for the stretch run. He took the loss, allowing two runs on five hits with no walks and five strikeouts, but most importantly he came out of the start unscathed.
"Looking at the positives, I got to pitch again which is always fun, but you don't want to be a detriment to the team, so next time I'll try and pitch a little deeper," Kershaw said of his return. "Physically, I felt fine. No complaints. I'll sleep on it tonight and make sure I'm back tomorrow, but I'm not worried about it right now."
J.T. Realmuto welcomed Kershaw back to the big leagues with a solo home run in the first inning. Realmuto turned on a 93 MPH fastball from the three-time Cy Young Award winner and promptly sent it into the seats in left field to give Miami the early lead.
"I'm thankful I got to come back. A lot of people put in a lot of work to help me get back and I'm thankful for that. But at the same time, I'm out there to win and get guys out. I didn't do that tonight," continued Kershaw.
Kershaw labored through the second inning, serving up a double to Jeff Francoeur and an RBI single to Chris Johnson to give the Marlins a 2-0 lead.
"It wasn't great, obviously," Kershaw said of the start overall. "I threw a lot of pitches. I was averaging 20+ pitches an inning. Regardless of the pitch count, it would have been a short night."
Kershaw threw a scoreless third inning, striking out Marcell Ozuna on a silder for his final pitch of the game.
"With Clayton there's always going to be a debate," Dodgers manager Dave Roberts said of the decision to pull Kershaw after three innings. "He wants to finish every game he starts, so there was a bit of a discussion, but I think he understood it was in his best interest."
Unfortunately for the 2014 MVP, the Dodgers were unable to mount a comeback as they were dominated by Marlins ace and 2013 NL Rookie of the Year Jose Fernandez.
Fernandez (14-8) threw seven scoreless innings, scattering just three hits as he struck out a career-high 14 batters. Fernandez improved to 11-2 at home this season, lowering his ERA to 1.78 at Marlins Park.
Bud Norris came out of the bullpen for the Dodgers and allowed two runs on one-hit in the fifth inning.
Yasmani Grandal led off the ninth inning with his 25th home run of the season, most among MLB catchers, but the Dodgers could not complete the rally.
"Just to be able to see Clayton on the mound was great," Roberts said after the game. "For Clayton to be back, that's a win for us."
Los Angeles leads the NL West by 4.5 games over the San Francisco Giants who are playing the Arizona Diamondbacks at Chase Field.
Players of the Game:
Jose Fernandez: Seven shutout innings.
J.T. Realmuto: Home run
Yasmani Grandal: Home run.
1. The Return of the King: Clayton Kershaw returned to the Dodgers on Friday after a 10-week absence with a lower back injury. Kershaw struck out five and walked none in three innings, making him the first pitcher in MLB history to strike out 150 batters, while walking just 10 in a single season.
Clayton Kershaw is the first pitcher in MLB history to reach 150 strikeouts while walking just 10 in a single season pic.twitter.com/eKaeSgmqnD — Michael J. Duarte (@michaeljduarte) September 10, 2016
2. Donny Baseball Dominates Dodgers: Former manager Don Mattingly moved to 5-0 against his former team after the Marlins defeated the Dodgers on Friday. The five-game losing streak to the Marlins is the longest since 1997.
Easily the worst part about this is all the media who are gonna tweet out the Dodgers record against Don Mattingly. — Chad Moriyama (@ChadMoriyama) September 10, 2016
3. Hold All the Aces: Clayton Kershaw and Jose Fernandez are two of the most dominant players in the modern era. The two pitchers have the lowest ERA in a minimum of 50 starts since 1920, and find themselves in elite company.
MLB, Lowest ERA in Starts – Since 1920
Kershaw - 2.39
Fernandez - 2.62
Wilhelm - 2.68
Ford - 2.71
Koufax - 2.71 — Michael J. Duarte (@michaeljduarte) September 10, 2016
Dodgers (79-61): Rich Hill heads the mound on Saturday making his first road appearance as a Dodger.
Marlins (70-71): Tom Koehler gets the call for Miami at 4:10PM PST.
All quotes courtest of TWC's SportsNetLA.