Dodgers’ Kershaw tossed from game he’s not even playing in

MVP statement? Even on a day off, Clayton Kershaw finds himself in the middle of the action.

Mark J. Terrill

As the MLB season winds down, one of the hottest debates in these final weeks is whether Dodgers ace Clayton Kershaw should win National League MVP. His numbers certainly seem to deserve merit, and most view him as a runway for the Cy Young Award.

But to some, for someone who plays only once every five or so games, their impact on the season is not great enough for the award. For others, eligibility is not the issue, but to be considered, a pitcher must be more than great. One of those never-seen-that-before type seasons.

Well, Kershaw leads all of baseball with a 1.70 ERA and his 17 wins are tied for the best. Big whoop, right?

He also threw a no-hitter this season — his first. But heck, Tim Lincecum threw his second no-hitter this season. And Josh Beckett did it, too (along with a bunch of Phillies).

But has anyone ever led the league in ERA and wins, thrown a no-hitter, and get thrown out of a game . . . in which he was not playing . . . after a pitcher on the other team hit a batter? All in the same season?

Clayton Kershaw is serious about this MVP thing.

In Sunday’s series finale against the Arizona Diamondbacks, Dodgers first baseman Adrian Gonzales hit his second three-run home run in as many innings in the seventh. Matt Kemp followed with a homer to make it 7-2 Dodgers.

D-backs pitcher Oliver Perez made sure there would be no back-to-back job, hitting the next batter, Andre Ethier, in the butt with a curveball that reportedly fell just short of 80 mph.

Not wanting any more shenanigans, plate umpire Scott Barry did not eject Perez but rather issued warnings to both teams, though no Dodger pitcher hit an Arizona batter. Dodger manager Don Mattingly came out to argue and got run.

And on Mattingly’s way back to the dugout, Kershaw, screaming from said dugout, got the heave-ho, too, from first base ump and crew chief Laz Diaz.

"I don’t think there should have been a warning at all. I don’t think he’s trying to hit him there," Mattingly said, according to MLB.com. "We’re smart enough to know that he hit him with a breaking ball. If he hits him with a fastball in the middle of the back after two home runs, that’s something different. But I don’t think any of us thought he did it on purpose."

In fact, it seemed most if not all of the Dodgers were baffled by the warning, not upset with Perez at all.

"It’s a slider, man," Kemp said. "I don’t understand how they gave a warning right there. They were jumping the gun a little too much. I don’t know how you get mad about a slider. It’s a 70 mph pitch."

Added Ethier: "No, I don’t think [it was intentional]. I had no idea. I’m just standing up there, trying to get a hit."

Even Perez was surprised by the ump’s actions.

"I was surprised when he [the umpire] came out there," Perez told MLB.com. "I think maybe it was because they [the D-backs and the Dodgers] had a big fight last year. I was not throwing at him."

One person who did agree with Barry was the guy who actually started Sunday’s game for the Dodgers, Zack Greinke.

"Last year I thought was pretty intense, but this year I feel it’s been more normal games," Greinke, who improved to 14-8 with the 7-2 victory, told MLB.com, referring to a brawl which erupted between the two teams in 2013, a game which Greinke pitched in, as well. "The umpires are more warned, and I guess they’re a little bit more on their toes, but I don’t feel like anything’s happened that anybody’s gotten real mad at. . . . I don’t really disagree with the umpires’ decision. It was a curveball, but back-to-back homers, and sometimes pitchers get mad. I don’t know if he did, but I thought it was a good idea by the umpire."

It was Mattingly’s 15th career ejection, Kershaw’s third. Kershaw’s second was in 2011, also against the D-backs. But for that one, Kershaw was on the mound. He got tossed after plunking Gerardo Parra in the sixth inning while working on a one-hit shutout at the time.

On Monday night, Kershaw goes back to trying to impress voters the more traditional way — pitching. One should note, however, that boyhood bud and still BFF Matthew Stafford leads his Detroit Lions against the Giants in their season opener on Monday Night Football. But that game kicks off three hours before the Dodgers take the field, so Kershaw shouldn’t be in any sort of hurry to leave the game early and catch the end of the football game.

Unless there’s OT?