MINNEAPOLIS - The Los Angeles Dodgers come home to Chavez Ravine Wednesday after completing the two-game sweep of the Minnesota Twins, but Manager Dave Roberts' decision-making will be called into question after pulling Clayton Kershaw in the midst of a perfect game bid.
Kershaw dominated the Twins in his season debut, tossing seven perfect innings with 13 strikeouts, all with just 80 pitches. He returned to the dugout after the bottom of the seventh to handshakes and high-fives. Kershaw was replaced by Alex Vesia to start the eighth inning. Two batters later, the perfect game and no-hit bid were over as catcher Gary Sanchez sent a single into right-center field.
While many were critical of Roberts' decision to pull Kershaw, Kershaw himself called the move "the right decision" post-game.
Six outs away from what would have been MLB's 24th ever perfect game, Kershaw told reporters that he would have loved to have been able to go out for the eighth. "But at the end of the day, those are individual things," he said. "Those are selfish goals. We're trying to win, you know and that's really all we're here for.
Kershaw also pointed to how little he's thrown so far this year, between the shortened spring training and the delayed start to the season.
"As much as I would've wanted to do it, I've thrown 75 pitches in a sim game," he said. "I hadn't gone six innings let alone seven.
Still, many were critical of Roberts' decision. But this isn't the first time Roberts has made a similar call. In 2016, Ross Stripling had a no-hitter through 7.1 innings. Roberts pulled him after 100 pitches. Later that same season, Rich Hill was in the exact position Kershaw was in on Wednesday - perfect through seven innings. But concerns about blisters on his hands forced Roberts to pull Hill.
According to Stats Perform, since 1901, only two pitchers have been pulled after 7+ perfect innings. Roberts was the manager in both games.
There are still 157 games left in the Dodgers' 2022 season, and Kershaw will have plenty more opportunities for perfection on the mound. Roberts decision was one made with a long season in mind. He still has a World Series victory prediction to back up.
"Sure I would've loved to do it," Kershaw said on the perfect game bid. "But maybe I'll get another chance, who knows?"
The Dodgers beat the Twins Wednesday 7-0.
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