Bad news for Angels — Kershaw back to old self
LOS ANGELES — The pitcher who has come to define the Los Angeles Dodgers will be on the mound Saturday against the pitcher who was once a member of the Dodgers — for a few hours.
Clayton Kershaw will be making his fifth start since coming off the disabled list with a lower back strain when he matches up against the Los Angeles Angels.
The three-time Cy Young Award winner will face fellow left-hander Andrew Heaney, who was traded from the Miami Marlins to the Dodgers in December of 2014 and then flipped to the Angels later that day.
Kershaw (3-4, 2.61 ERA) appears to have moved beyond all restrictions since returning from the DL, advancing to 89 pitches while throwing six scoreless innings in a victory at San Diego on Monday. He is 2-0 in the four starts since his return with a 2.25 ERA.
With 17 strikeouts and just two walks in 20 innings since June 23, Kershaw looks more like the pitcher that has dominated for most of his career. His back problem, and a previous left biceps tendonitis issue, appear to be things of the past.
In an ominous sign for the Angels, Kershaw said he is now feeling as good as his numbers indicate.
“It was a good day,” Kershaw about his start on Monday, according to mlb.com. “Definitely a step in the right direction. They were patient, got my pitch count up there, but for the most part, made some good pitches when I needed to.”
Heaney (5-6, 3.84) has been one of the rare Angels pitchers to avoid injury. He is one of three Angels starters to make at least 16 starts, and one of those pitchers, Garrett Richards, is out for the remainder of the season with an elbow injury.
When he takes the mound Saturday at Dodger Stadium, Heaney will move one start away from his career-best 18 starts in 2015, his first season in Anaheim.
That was the Angels’ first season without infielder Howie Kendrick, who was traded to the Dodgers to acquire Heaney. Kendrick is long gone from the Dodgers, leaving the club’s fans to watch a pitcher who was once theirs … if only for a few hours.
They already saw what Heaney could do on Sunday when the lefty gave up three runs over seven innings against the Dodgers. The Angels earned a 4-3 victory on a late Shohei Ohtani home run and won two of three games in the interleague series.
The Angels went on to win two of three against the Mariners, outscoring Seattle 20-8 in the series. The Angels offense is looking more like the club that was in first place in May. Kole Calhoun is starting to come to life, hitting two home runs Friday.
But the Angels will take a 14-game deficit in the American League West into Saturday’s game.
“They’re working very, very hard,” Angels manager Mike Scioscia said about the offense, according to the Los Angeles Times. “These guys are all working toward that end where they start to get the production we’re looking for. So hopefully we’re going to start to see that.”
If the Angels have designs on winning their third consecutive series, they will have to win the final two games of the matchup after the Dodgers rallied for a 3-2 victory Friday.