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Clayton Kershaw’s latest injury overshadows Dodgers’ sweep of the Giants

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Los Angeles Dodgers pitcher Clayton Kershaw (foreground) reacts as JD Davis of the San Francisco Giants (back) circles the bases after hitting a double home run during the second inning of a baseball game in San Francisco, Thursday, August 4, 2022. (AP Photo/Jeff Chiu)
Dodgers pitcher Clayton Kershaw reacts to a Giants third baseman walking around the bases after a two-run home run in the second inning in San Francisco. (Jeff Chiu/Associated Press)

Clayton Kershaw immediately realized that something was wrong.

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Before starting the bottom of the fifth inning on Thursday afternoon at Oracle Park, Kershaw was pitching warm-up pitches when he said he “felt a bit of a blockage” in his lower back.

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It was an immediate red flag for the left-hander with a history of back problems, including a month-long absence earlier this season due to sacroiliac joint inflammation that caused lower back pain.

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Kershaw tried to do another warm-up but was clearly still uncomfortable.

He called the coach, said, “That’s my back,” as he stepped off the embankment, then slowly made his way to the dugout, disappearing with a grimace into the tunnel to the clubhouse.

Dodgers still continued beat the San Francisco Giants 5-3 on Thursday, ending their first four-game draw in San Francisco since 1977 and finishing 7-1 on a two-city road trip.

But Kershaw’s injury, which the team described as lower back pain, eclipsed it all, dealing an already exhausted pitching staff another potential blow to one of the most important starting players.

“It’s hard to say right now,” Kershaw said of his injury. “We will see more tomorrow. Just more things for the back.

How upset is the 34-year-old veteran?

“A good amount,” he said with a sigh.

Kershaw’s back has been a problem for years, leading to injury lists in 2016, 2017, 2018 and 2020.

It was because of the pain in his back after flying across the country in May that Kershaw was put on the month-long list of injured at the beginning of this season.

Manager Dave Roberts said Kershaw would have “lots of tests” in Los Angeles on Friday.

While Roberts was unsure of the severity of this injury or whether Kershaw would have to be placed on the injured list, he admitted there were some concerns “given that it’s his back, which has caused problems at times.”

“We just won’t know more until we run some tests,” Roberts added.

Kershaw’s early exit, which followed four strong innings in which he gave up his only two runs (one of which was not earned) in two home runs to JD Davis in the second inning, also came two days after the trade deadline. which saw the Dodgers (72-33) remain relatively calm.

Due to the inflated prices of many stars, especially top starting pitchers, the team abandoned their pursuit of several potential trade targets.

Instead, they only threw one pitch in the form of average pitcher Chris Martin. And they were counting on the fact that as other injured pitchers like Walker Buhler, Dustin May and Blake Trainen recovered over time, their team would solidify into a championship-caliber bunch.

Clayton Kershaw of the Dodgers plays against the San Francisco Giants.
Clayton Kershaw of the Dodgers plays against the San Francisco Giants. (Jeff Chiu/Associated Press)

Any extended absence from Kershaw would have disrupted those plans, with little more than two months left before the playoffs began.

“Of course, the calendar is not on our side,” Roberts said. – But we’ll see the day after tomorrow, after the results, tests, and also see how he feels.

Kershaw added, “I hope I don’t wake up too badly.”

It wasn’t just Kershaw’s back that flared up on Thursday.

With the Dodgers leading 4-2 in the bottom of the sixth inning, Giants reliever Yarlin Garcia twice mimicked the Dodgers’ headbutt celebration, with their hitters banging their helmet with a clenched fist after receiving the hit.

Garcia first did this after knocking out Cody Bellinger. When James Outman was called for the third out in the next at-bat, Garcia not only did it again, but pointed to Mookie Betts in a circle on deck.

Betts said that after the game, he didn’t say anything to Garcia during the bat but started walking towards the pitcher after the pitch ended.

“Did I just say what’s your problem?” said Betts, whose three-run home run in the fourth inning gave the Dodgers the lead. “I don’t know. I was just standing on deck. You should ask him, I have no idea.”

In the ensuing scramble, Garcia was ejected, as was Giants manager Gabe Kapler, who got into a heated argument with first base umpire Phil Cuzzi.

San Francisco Giants manager Gabe Kapler reacts to the refereeing team after being kicked out.
San Francisco Giants manager Gabe Kapler (left) reacts to the umpire panel after he was ejected in the sixth inning in San Francisco on Thursday. (Jeff Chiu/Associated Press)

“During the game, the score of the game and the inning, it didn’t make much sense to a lot of us,” said Trea Turner, a fan of The Wolf of Wall Street. was the source of the Dodgers’ head-banging routine that replicates the scene from the film.

Roberts said he was surprised by Garcia’s antics, noting that almost every team has a hit celebration.

“Mookie is a guy who does everything right and never intended to flaunt an opponent,” said Roberts. “He was stunned. He was shocked. As I.

Betts said he had no previous history with Garcia other than running into him at the plate.

“I think he felt a certain way,” Betts said, more heated than usual during the post-match bout. “I don’t know. You should ask him.

Garcia told reporters he was not trying to be disrespectful. Kapler, however, acknowledged that his player “probably crossed the line in this situation”.

However, it wasn’t long before the Dodgers were hitting heads again when Turner hit a solo home run in the top of seventh, which helped put the game out of reach.

As Turner rounded third base—right in front of the Giants’ dugout—he slammed his fist on his helmet.

The Dodgers’ dugout also turned into an exaggerated version of the celebration, a response that Betts said “for sure” had additional motivation.

“You started it,” he said. “I’m not going to back down at this point. I’m not going to run away from him. I’m not going to encourage it, but I’m not going to run away either.”

This story originally appeared in Los Angeles Times.


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